On Max Weber’s inaugural address of 1895: contextual, textual and intertextual perspectives

HE Rong1

(1.Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

【Abstract】Weber’s 1895 inaugural address is regarded as a manifestation of aggressive nationalism, but it is overlooked in Weber literature to a certain degree. This study focuses on this text to locate the early Weber’s sociological concerns, namely, how the demographic trend, economic transformation and political structure in the East Elbian region challenged Germany as an integrated nation. Furthermore, this is also a case study to show why we need to understand Weber’s work via a textual, contextual and intertextual perspective. A possible way towards a multi-dimensional historiography of Weber’s work is to construct text groups, and text chains based on key texts of certain themes.

【Keywords】 early Weber; history of Weber’s writings; key texts; text chain;

【DOI】

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    Footnote

    [1]. ① In 1959, Mommsen published Max Weber und Deutsche Politik, 1890–1920, criticizing Weber’s stands, even with the belief that Weber’s thought laid the foundation for the rising of Hitler. Such assertion had a close relation with the general atmosphere of reflection in German intellectual world in the 1950s and Mommsen’s personal idea that Germany should be responsible for the war. On the conference in commemoration of Weber’s 100th birthday, Mommsen, Marcuse, and Habermas expressed strong criticism against Weber, while Parsons, Aron and others defended him. Mommsen’s criticism became less intense in the second edition of the book published in 1974, and the English version (1984) of the book was translated from the 1974 edition of the German version. Mommsen explained the change in his stand in the preface he wrote for all editions (German 1st, 2nd editions, and English edition). [^Back]

    [2]. ① In this period, Weber’s works were mainly investigation reports, newspaper articles, and conference papers. After the 1890s, German domestic situation changed, but Weber did not continue his research on farm laborers, exchanges, and other problems, and thus when Mrs. Weber compiled collected works in the 1920s, she did not include these works due to the outdated subject and limit on length. Since the late 1970s, the new Max Weber Gesamtausgabe have begun compiling all his reports, lectures, teaching materials for courses, letters, and other forms of literature, such as the investigation report on farm laborers in eastern Germany written in 1892, in which the original script of Weber was over 900 pages, compiled as Book III (i and ii) published in 1894. In addition, by 2003, only four articles among the more than 1700 pages of Weber’s works had been translated into English (Sica, 2003). Until 2003 and 2008 when Weber’s doctoral dissertation and professor qualification paper were finally published in English, Weber’s early works that non-German scholars can access were enriched. [^Back]

    [3]. ① The German word used here is Kolonization, normally translated into Chinese as “殖民 (colonization)” (Ringer, 2011) and “拓殖 (colonization)” (Weber, 1997). Since the Chinese word “殖民 (colonizing)” or “殖民化 (colonization)” often imply the meaning of capitalist aggression, national oppression and deprivation, this article, according to the policy measures Weber proposed, translated the term into “屯垦 (settlement and cultivation),” which means immigration and exploitation measures implemented by the state in regions with huge population outflow and poor land. [^Back]

    [4]. ① “Altruism” normally indicates the quality of caring others’ wellbeing and being pleased to serve others. However, Weber used the word here to indicate behaviors that sacrificed immediate utility and had long-term expectations, which, against the political economic context in Germany at the time, had a meaning of going beyond group interests and making national interests the major consideration. [^Back]

    [5]. ① Scaff (1984) indicated that Weber’s arguments should be understood based on the atmosphere of the intellectual world of his time, which mainly featured: the end of German liberalism, rising of socialism, economic perspective in social sciences, and pessimism in social culture. Weber’s criticism about the bourgeoisie here was related to several important phenomena in German liberalism after 1878, namely the alignment of industrial capital and semi-feudal agricultural interest group, the inaction of old-school middle-class liberal parties, and the “top-to-bottom” revolution of authoritarianism in social policies. [^Back]

    [6]. ① The German script of the address has been lost; the English translation was published in 1906, entitled “The Relations of the Rural Community to Other Branches of Social Sciences,” and then included in the title “Capitalism and Rural Community to Other Branches of Social Science” with some revisions in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology by Hans and Mills. The Chinese version translated by Bu Yongjian was compiled in the Chinese edition of The National State and Economic Policy (Weber, 1997). [^Back]

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This Article

ISSN:1002-5936

CN: 11-1100/C

Vol 31, No. 06, Pages 214-236+245-246

November 2016

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Article Outline

Knowledge

Abstract

  • 1 Debate on the 1895 address: agriculture and farmers as political issues
  • 2 Sociological subjects of the 1895 address: social changes, population flow, and national construction
  • 3 Building a text chain centered on key texts: early Weber’s map of thought
  • 4 Conclusion: meanings of establishing textual connections between Weber’s works for research on the history of his writings
  • Footnote

    References