Max Weber’s 70 Best Quotes

Maximilian Karl Emil Weber, better known as Max Weber, Was a German sociologist, economist and philosopher born in the city of Munich in 1864.

Thanks to his particular vision of society, economy and religion, Max Weber is currently considered one of the fathers of modern sociology and his name lives up to other great sociologists such as Karl Marx, Auguste Comte or Émile Durkheim. One thing we all need to know is that there are many of this philosopher’s ideas which still retain great validity today and that is precisely why reading his work is still actively recommended among those who conduct certain university studies.

    Table of Contents

    Phrases and thoughts of Max Weber, famous German sociologist

    You may have heard a lot about this famous German thinker, but if you don’t know what his main ideas were and how he understood society, the lines below will help you understand his ideas, we will see the best quotes of Max Weber on different subjects: society, history, politics, etc.

    1. Because nothing is worth anything to a person if they cannot do it with passion.

    As this famous philosopher tells us in this quote, only the things that we are most passionate about are the things that truly fill us as individuals.

    2. Awakening in the broadest sense of advanced thinking has always pursued the goal of removing fear from people and using it as a teacher. But the fully enlightened earth shines in the sign of triumphant calamity. The Enlightenment program was the disenchantment of the world.

    Being wiser usually makes us less happy, because when we humans find out what the world around us really is, we often realize all the injustices it holds.

    3. From all experience, no rule is voluntarily satisfied for purely material reasons, or only for emotional reasons, or only of rational value as opportunities for its sustainability. On the contrary, everyone seeks to awaken and cultivate faith in their legitimacy.

    We all need to be very clear about our goals and try to pursue them, regardless of how we feel each day to achieve them.

    4. Unlike the savage, for whom such powers existed, one must resort to magical means to control or solicit spirits.

    Skepticism is certainly one way of looking at life that can make us see the world in a much less magical or exciting way.

      5. Increasing intellectualization and rationalization does not mean an increasing general knowledge of the conditions of life in which one finds oneself. On the contrary, it means something else: the knowledge of him or the belief in him: that one can experience him at any time, if only he wanted to, that in principle there are no mysterious powers and unpredictable acting in him, that one rather all things, in principle, can be mastered by calculation.

      With the advent of science, man has often managed to get a step ahead of nature and even learn that with observation and study he can come to predict the many difficulties that he will have to live in the future.

      6. Idea is not a substitute for work. And work cannot replace or force the idea, nor can passion. Both, above all: the two together attract him. But it comes when you love it, not when you love it.

      Ideas arise spontaneously, but if we don’t work on them later, we can never get all the fruits they can give us.

      7. This document (the Communist Manifesto) is of its kind, even if we reject it in decisive theses (at least I do), a scientific achievement of the first order. You can neither deny nor deny this, because nobody believes in it and because it cannot be denied in good conscience.

      The idea of ​​communism was certainly a revolution at the timeA very logical thing given that this new form of state organization promised at least on paper a better life for every citizen.

      8. Fifteen years ago, when American workers were asked why they let themselves be ruled by politicians who pretended to despise them, the answer was: we would rather have people to spit on officials than a caste of officials. that they spit. It was the old view of American democracy: even then, socialists thought completely differently.

      Throughout the history of democracy, the world of politics has always been ruled by the rich and powerful, which is why many of the policies once imposed on the population favored the wealthier class of society.

      9. Obviousness is the least thought out.

      Often times the simplest decision is usually the right one, we should never discredit an idea so that it may seem too obvious or obvious.

      10. Just as the magician has his charisma, the god must demonstrate his power.

      With the advent of communism and industrialization, the idea of ​​an omnipotent god seemed to have less and less depth in the population and as we can see, this sociologist harbored very serious doubts about his existence.

      11. The great advantage of capitalism is that it disciplines selfishness.

      Capitalism has proven to be a very effective system over the years, although we should know that various current economists have already predicted that in the future it will probably also end up becoming obsolete.

      12. The idea does not replace work.

      Without work there is no glory, however bright we are, if we are to be able to achieve a very precious goal, we will always have to work.

      13. There are two ways to turn politics into a profession. Or: you live for politics or politics.

      Politics has become a way of earning a living for many people that is why in most countries they have quite a large number of politicians.

      14. This is where the crux lies. We must understand that any ethically oriented action can be subject to two fundamentally different and inalienable contradictory maxims: it cannot be oriented towards any ethical or ethically responsible conviction.

      Our personal values ​​often do not have to match those of the majority of society, which can often confuse us when having to make relevant decisions in a very hasty manner.

      15. Another basic concept is exercise. This means: To increase the ease, speed, safety and uniformity of a certain action through its frequent repetition.

      Certainly, when people repeat a lot of the same action at the end, we have managed to do it very quickly and efficiently, because as they say, practice is what will usually lead us to perfection.

      16. For us, “political” means to struggle for a share of power or to influence the distribution of power, either among states, or within a state, or between groups of people around us.

      With the exercise of politics and with patience, we can all achieve a relevant position in society, which is precisely why many people, aware of this fact, often say that they are specifically dedicated to the exercise of this. Politics.

      17. If there were only social structures for which violence as a means was unknown, then the term state would have disappeared and what would have happened in this particular sense of the word as anarchy.

      As can be seen in this quote, the idea of ​​anarchy was presented as a very interesting form of social organization for this famous sociologist, according to this ideology, the absence of a state should not theoretically mean the end of ‘a well-organized society.

      18. The State is that human society which, in a certain area, alone (successfully) claims a monopoly on legitimate physical violence.

      It is true that the State is the only social entity considered as fully legitimate to exercise violence, repression which, according to theory, will always be applied with the sole idea of ​​preserving the proper functioning of society as a whole.

      19. An empirical science cannot teach anyone what it should, but only what it can and, in certain circumstances, what it wants.

      Human beings only learn when they want to. As every teacher knows, it doesn’t matter how hard we try to teach a person if they don’t put their part in it doesn’t absorb that knowledge that we are trying to instill.

      20. Because the most radical doubt is that of the father of knowledge.

      Curiosity is the mother of science and for it to wake up in many of us, we need an existential doubt that puts it to work.

      21. Because the rule is essential in everyday life: administration.

      Knowing how to manage ourselves properly can certainly help us a lot in our daily life because of this very fact, we may be able to afford more than one major whim over time.

      22. All political structures are structures of violence.

      A very curious way of understanding politics, of course, but it is true that the legislator can see it as a body exercising a certain repression.

      23. It is only through strict specialization that the scientist can feel full, once and perhaps never again in life: here I have achieved something that will last.

      Few things in the world are more important to a scientist than the pleasure of being able to make a new discovery.

      24. The idea is usually only developed on the basis of very hard work.

      For a good idea to reach us, it is true that it is a very probable thing, that before we have to spend a lot of time looking for it.

      25. Therefore, the cause of the different behaviors must be sought – primarily in the enduring internal quality of these religions and not only in their respective external historical-political situations.

      Each religion has a different way of approaching people’s daily lives and of organizing their own economy, a very curious characteristic that most people generally overlook.

      26. Politics means a strong and slow rise from hard tables with passion and a sense of proportion at the same time.

      Many policies are initially rejected and end up with popular support over time. A fact that shows us once again, that a lie told a thousand times can end up being the truth for some people.

      27. Sociology (in the sense of this very ambiguous word) should mean: a science which interprets social action and wants to explain its course and its causal effects.

      Weber had a very peculiar view of what sociology was to him, an idea that we can largely reflect clearly in this brief quote.

        28. Politicians are fighting for power.

        Certainly a very brief quote which in turn reveals a great truth. Politics is in most cases the most used tool to gain power.

        29. Power means any opportunity in a social relationship to have one’s own will respected, even against resistance, whatever the opportunity.

        Once we gain power, there will be nothing that others can do so as not to have to carry out our purposes and that is why so many people aspire to achieve this certain status of supremacy at all costs.

        30. Mysticism seeks a state of possession, not of action, and the individual is not a tool but a receiver of the divine.

        The way religion understood the lives of people differed greatly from the ideas of this sociologist; at the start of the twentieth century, modernity was something which, as we can see, left less and less room for ideas based on the divine and the transcendent.

        31. In this sense, I also consider myself an invalid, an atrophied man whose destiny is to honestly admit that he has to endure this state of affairs.

        We all experience vicissitudes throughout our lives, regardless of our social status or how much money we have.

        32. For the true mystic, the principle remains valid: the creature must be silent for God to speak.

        Religion is an idea which has almost always demanded its faithful submission; on the other hand, science has always asked those who practice it to collaborate, which is perhaps why, since the appearance of the so-called Enlightenment, religions and especially Christianity have experienced a clear shift over the years. time. decline among the number of its followers.

        33. The contrast between asceticism and mysticism is also attenuated if the contemplative mystic does not come to the conclusion that he must flee the world, but, like the asceticism of the inner world, must remain in the orders of the world.

        No matter whether we believe in a higher power or not, a deep sense of respect should always prevail among all people.

        34. Specialists without mind, sensualists without heart; this nullity supposes that it has reached a level of civilization never reached before.

        Although today’s civilization is very advanced, it is true that more and more interpersonal relationships are colder than it seems, that according to this logic, the more we evolve as a society at the individual level. , we become less passionate over time.

        35. It is true that good cannot derive from good and evil only from evil, but the opposite often occurs. Anyone who does not see this is in fact a political child.

        Good and evil are actually much closer than we usually thinkIt may even be that in reality the difference between the two lies only in our particular point of view.

          36. Rationalism is a historical concept which contains within itself a world of contradictions.

          The more we look for explanations of how the world around us actually works, the more likely we will find unknowns. Certainly nonsense that science has been forced to coexist with since its inception.

          37. Both as ruling and governed strata and as majority and minority, Protestants … exhibited a specific tendency towards economic rationalism. This trend was not observed in the same way in the present or in the past among Catholics, whether they were the dominant or dominated stratum or whether they constituted a majority or a minority.

          According to Weber, the United States possessed a climate that was totally conducive to future economic growth and, as we all know, over time this famous sociologist has been unequivocally proven to be totally right.

          38. Certainly, even with the best of intentions, the modern person in general seems unable to imagine how much these components of our consciousness rooted in religious beliefs have had in culture, national character and the organization of life. However, it cannot of course be the intention to place here a one-sided spiritualistic analysis of the causes of culture and history rather than an equally one-sided “materialist” analysis. Both are also possible. Historical truth, however, serves little or none of these analyzes purporting to be the conclusion of an investigation rather than its preparatory phase.

          As human beings, we have all long been affected by many outward religious and social ideas, ideas which over time have gradually formed most of the moral principles that many of us have today.

          39. This naive way of conceptualizing capitalism with reference to the search for profit must be relegated to the nursery school of the methodology of cultural history and abandoned once and for all. A totally unlimited compulsion to acquire goods cannot be understood as synonymous with capitalism, much less as its spirit. On the contrary, capitalism can be identical to the domestication of this irrational motivation, or at least to its rational moderation. However, capitalism is distinguished by the pursuit of profit, in fact, profits are rationally and continuously pursued in companies and enterprises, and then pursued over and over again, just like profitability. There are no options. If the whole economy is organized according to the rules of the free market, let’s start by defining the terms more precisely than is usually the case. For us, a capitalist economic act implies above all an expectation of profit based on the use of exchange opportunities; that is, (formally) peaceful acquisition opportunities. Formal and actual acquisition by violence obeys its own special laws, and therefore it is best to place it, no matter how much it is recommended to do so, in a different category. Wherever capitalist acquisition is rationally pursued, action is oriented towards calculation in terms of capital.

          In today’s capitalist world, people they live only for the sole purpose of acquiring wealth and goods, a way of life which, as we will discover over the years, often ends up becoming very tedious. and unsatisfactory for many who practice it.

          40. Finally, the possible attitudes towards life are irreconcilable and, therefore, their struggle can never lead to a definitive conclusion.

          No one knows where our life will take us, but it is true that as we move forward, many of us feel like we never stop fighting. Being able to achieve our personal goals is a sometimes torturous path that many of us will certainly not give up in our lifetimes.

          41. The legitimation of a recognized religion has always been decisive for an alliance between the politically and socially ruling classes and the priesthood. Integration into the Hindu community gave such religious legitimacy to the ruling stratum. Not only did he give the ruling barbarian layer a recognized rank in the cultural world of Hinduism, but by transforming it into castes, he ensured its superiority over the submissive classes with an efficiency unmatched by any other religion.

          The division of castes in India is certainly a very interesting form of social organization, because thanks to this style of society, the citizens of this nation enjoyed in the past a great social balance with which many other countries of yesteryear did not. were only dreaming.

          42. Sociology is the science of which the object is to interpret the meaning of social action and, consequently, to give a causal explanation of the course of action and the effects it produces. By action in this definition is meant human behavior when and to the extent that the agent or agents consider it to be subjectively significant, the meaning to which we are referring may be (a) the meaning actually intended by an individual agent in a particular historical occasion or by a number of agents on an approximate average in a given set of cases, or (b) the meaning attributed to the agent or agents, as a type, in a pure type constructed in the abstract . In neither case should we think that the meaning is in any way objectively correct or true by a metaphysical criterion.

          As a sociologist, Max Weber always wondered how exactly society influences the human being a question that is certainly very difficult to answer.

          43. After Nietzsche’s devastating criticism of those “last men” who “invented happiness,” they probably won’t need to remember the naive optimism with which we once celebrate science, or technology for science. mastery of life based on it because the way to happiness.

          It is true that Weber and Nietzsche certainly had a very different outlook on life, and it is probably precisely this fact that made them great philosophers.

          44. In a democracy, people prefer a leader they trust. Then the chosen leader said: Now shut up and obey me. Then the people and the party are no longer free to interfere in their affairs.

          Are we as free in a democracy as we often think? This quote from Weber shows us that the freedom we believe we live in can in fact be much more subjective than we imagine.

          45. True prophecy systematically creates and directs behavior towards an internal measure of value. In the face of this, the “world” is seen as a material which must be ethically shaped in accordance with the standard. Confucianism, on the contrary, meant an adjustment to the exterior, to the conditions of the “world”. A well-adjusted man, rationalizing his conduct only to the extent required by adjustment, does not constitute a systematic unity but rather a complex of useful and particular traits.

          At the beginning of the 20th century, religions began to clearly fall into the background, giving much greater relevance to the world of ideas, a change in general mentality, which in fact had been gaining ground for a long time.

          46. ​​The more a religion is aware of its opposition in principle to economic rationalization as such, the more the virtuosos of religion are apt to reject the world, in particular its economic activities.

          Religion has dominated people’s lives for centuries and with the imminent arrival of modernity, many clerics have decided to fight with all their weapons to maintain the great power within the society that had gained over the years. .

          47. Above all, as will be seen again and again in the following sections, fundamental research into the idea of ​​a witness to one’s own belief as the psychological point of origin of methodical ethics is fundamental to our discussion.

          Many of the ideas that we have may not come from our own harvest, the company is a very important part which, contrary to what we sometimes think, tends to greatly influence our day-to-day decision making.

          48. The fate of our time is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by disillusionment with the world. Precisely the last and most sublime values ​​have been withdrawn from public life, either in the transcendent domain of mystical life, or in the fraternity of direct and personal human relations. It is no coincidence that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental.

          Whenever the world seems to be a lot less mystical and at the same time a lot more practical, although with this subtle change much of the charm that people’s lives seemed to have has been lost as well.

          49. The ability to perform religious virtuosos – the “intellectual sacrifice” – is the decisive characteristic of the positively religious man. This is demonstrated by the fact that despite (or rather as a consequence of) the theology (which reveals it), the tension between the value spheres of “science” and the sphere of the “saint” is insurmountable.

          Since science first appeared in people’s lives, there has always been a very intense struggle between it and religion. A battle that, in the middle of the 21st century, we still do not know what its end result will be.

          50. No sociologist, for example, should think that he is too good, even in his old age, to do tens of thousands of fairly trivial calculations in his head and perhaps for months.

          Sociology is a science that we will never be able to know everything about because over time a lot of great ideas that we once thought were totally immutable find out to us that they weren’t quite as true as we thought.

          51. The persecutions of these heterodoxies … do not explain the unusually rapid victory of Hinduism. Favorable political circumstances contributed to the victory. However, it was decisive that Hinduism could provide incomparable religious support to the legitimate interest of the ruling layers.

          Hinduism was a religion which secured the main foundations upon which he then ruled Indian society and that is why this religion can be revealed more as a holistic lifestyle than a religion.

          52. It is above all the impersonal and economically rationalized (but for the same reason ethically irrational) character of purely commercial relations that evokes the suspicion, never clearly expressed, but much more felt, of ethical religions. Because any purely personal man-to-man relationship, whatever it is, and even complete slavery, can be ethically demanded and ethically regulated. This is true because the structures of these relationships depend on the individual will of the participants, leaving room for such relationships for manifestations of the virtue of charity. But this is not the situation in the field of economically rationalized relations, where control personnel is exercised in inverse proportion to the degree of rational differentiation of the economic structure.

          Human beings have lived together in society for about 8000 years, and during all this time there has always been a class struggle, first with leaders of religious origin and now today thanks to capitalism, it is the economy that determines who is in command and who is to be subdued.

          53. For the Confucian, the specialist expert cannot be elevated to a truly positive dignity, whatever his social utility. The decisive factor was that “the cultivated man” (knight) “was not a tool”, that is to say that in his adaptation to the world and in his perfection he was an end in himself, not an end. medium for no functional purpose. This core of Confucian ethics rejected professional specialization, modern expert bureaucracy, and training. special; above all, he rejected training in economics for the sake of profit.

          For Confucianism, reflection and study were always the firstFor this religion, the pursuit of personal property and wealth was an utterly absurd way of wasting time that good men should never fall for.

          54. Since Judaism made Christianity possible and gave it the character of a religion essentially devoid of magic, it has rendered an important service from the point of view of economic history. For the domination of magic outside the realm in which Christianity has prevailed in one of the most serious obstacles to the rationalization of economic life. Magic involves a stereotype of technology and economic relations. When attempts were made in China to inaugurate the construction of railways and factories, there was a conflict with geomancy … The relationship with caste capitalism in India is similar. Each new technical process used by an Indian means for him, in the first place, that he leaves his caste and falls into another, necessarily lower … An additional fact is that each caste makes all the others impure. Therefore, workers who do not dare to accept a container filled with water from other people’s hands cannot work together in the same factory hall. Obviously, capitalism could not develop in such an economic group bound hand and foot by magical means.

          In this very revealing quote from Max Weber, we can see how, in its early days, capitalism clashed head-on with most religions, a fact that many of us having lived our entire lives immersed in capitalism until ‘by now we probably didn’t know.

          55. What interests us here is the power of assimilation of the Hindu order of life because of its legitimacy of social rank.

          India eventually had to adapt modern life and capitalism to its society because otherwise the leaders of this nation knew they could never have been able to compete in the hyper-accelerated world we live in.

          56. The ability to distinguish between empirical knowledge and value judgments, and the fulfillment of the scientific duty to see factual truth, as well as the practical duty to uphold our own ideals, is the agenda each of us once adheres to. more firmly.

          It is only by having our goals very clear that we can achieve them over the years, a perhaps very personal idea that more and more people in today’s society have.

          57. It is only in the case of belief in the validity of values ​​that the attempt to embrace value judgments is meaningful. However, judging the validity of these values ​​is a matter of faith.

          Personal values ​​are often very subjective and it is even possible that the values ​​that work for us today will never be for others.

          58. The truth is the truth.

          Finding an unshakeable truth is much more complicated than you might think, but if we ever do find one, it will be so obvious that no one will probably ever doubt it.

          59. Luther understands monasticism as the product of a lack of selfish love which deviates from his duties in the world. On the contrary, this worldly work in a vocation seems to him to be a visible expression of brotherly love, a notion that very unrealistically anchors reality and contrast, almost grotesquely, like the well-known passages of Adam Smith. .

          The way people understood society 100 years ago is a far cry from how we do it today, although, on the other hand, we have to keep in mind that these people have often been subjected to very difficult tests throughout their life.

          60. Modern capitalism is of as little use to the liberum arbitrium (undisciplined) as it is to the workers as it is to the unscrupulous businessman in the management of his enterprise.

          Since the birth of capitalism, companies have always sought serious workers at work but also very disciplined, two qualities that are simply essential to achieve the degree of efficiency that today’s businesses need.

          61. Finally, and of capital importance, the particular life of the saint, completely separated from the natural life of desires and needs, could no longer develop in monastic communities far removed from the world. On the contrary, the faithful must now lead a holy life in the world and in the midst of their worldly affairs. This rationalization of the conduct of life, now in the world but still oriented towards the supernatural, was the effect of the concept of vocation of ascetic Protestantism.

          The modern world also came to the life of the monks, Because although these will have to actively move away from modernity, modernity often ends up surrounding them.

          62. The Confucian aspirant to a post, drawn from the old tradition, could not avoid seeing specialized vocational training of the European seal as something more than conditioning in the dirtiest Philistine.

          People’s lives have changed a lot over the years this sociologist lived and during those years he got to see how some people seemed to hate what the world was becoming.

          63. This effort comes to be understood entirely as an end in itself, to the point that it seems completely out of the ordinary course of things and simply irrational, at least seen from the angle of happiness or usefulness. Here, people are focused on acquisition as the goal of life; acquisition is no longer seen as a means of meeting the basic needs of life. Those with spontaneous dispositions and pleasure seekers experience this situation as an absolutely meaningless investment of a “natural” condition (as one would say today). However, this reversal is as surely a guiding principle of capitalism as the misunderstanding of this new situation characterizes all those who remain intact under the tentacles of capitalism.

          As a result of capitalism, celibacy was viewed in a very different way from what it had been heretofore, as the moral principles which the Church had deemed correct have often ceased to be regarded as such with l advent of modernity.

          64. Due to the inability of the higher price rate to appeal to purchasing power, it would seem quite plausible to try to do so using the reverse strategy: lowering tariffs to a fixed price, for force workers to produce more in order to maintain their usual income. Furthermore, two simple observations seem to have been valid in the past, as they are today: lower wages and higher earnings are directly related, and anything paid in higher wages must result in a corresponding reduction in wages. earnings.

          Profit is in fact the only goal pursued by capitalism and to achieve it, entrepreneurs will not hesitate to do everything in their power to try to achieve it.

          65. The ascetic, when he wants to act in the world … must afflict with a kind of happy closure of the mind on any question of the meaning of the world, for he need not be concerned with such questions. It is therefore no coincidence that the asceticism of the inner world has reached its most coherent development on the basis of the absolute inexplicability of the Calvinist god, his total distance from all human judgment and the impossibility of seeking his patterns.

          For this sociologist, religion was sometimes nothing more than a blindfold in the eyes of the people, a self-imposed blindness that some voluntarily decided to choose for themselves.

          66. No one knows who will live in this hard as steel carcass and whether completely new prophets or a powerful rebirth of old ideas and ideals will be at the end of this stupendous development.

          Science made many people think that this was the end of religion, but as we all know today, religions have managed to last without any problems over time.

          67. Thus, the ascetic of the inner world is the recognized “man of vocation”, who does not inquire or does not find it necessary to seek the meaning of his effective practice of a vocation throughout the world, the framework global is not their responsibility but their god.

          A clear difference between the religious man and the man of science is that the former believes that God is totally in charge of his life and the latter thinks that it is he who really chooses the path he wishes to take.

          68. Capitalism has repeatedly been guided by this axiom, and even since its inception, and has been an article of faith for centuries that low wages are productive.

          Sometimes lower wages are not enough to keep a person alive, so is this work productive?

          69. Who believes this apart from a few disproportionate children occupying university chairs or newsrooms?

          The press rarely pleased this famous sociologistWell, in his opinion, there were many editors who weren’t entirely unbiased in writing many of his articles.

          70. For you, a theologian of liberal persuasion (whether Catholic or Protestant) is necessarily more detestable as a typical representative of an intermediate position.

          There are a lot of religious and scientists who have always hated theologians because as Weber tells us in this quote, they seem to be in a completely middle position between the two.

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