By Martin Albrow
A learn of the paintings of German sociologist, Max Weber, together with a short biography and an exploration in Weberian social conception.
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As such it has been the inspiration for many attempts since to create intellectual order out of a chaotic world. Lucien Goldman says something similar in his account of Kant: 'Kant seems to me to be the first modern thinker to recognize anew the importance of the totality as a fundamental category of existence, or at least to recognize its problematic character' (1971: 36). We can understand now some of the ambivalence Weber had, and therefore the difficulties faced by later commentators in respect of the question of unity in his work.
With 'reason'. as its core idea, culture itself became an arena for criticism, debate and the embracing of new ideas. The advance of mind became a dynamic factor in German education and the state. The result was the production of generations of academically educated professionals imbued with the Kantian ethos. Weber was one of them. Weber rarely refers directly to Kant. He was not a philosopher professionally and had no need to cite chapter and verse. In any case, Kant was so much part of his cultural heritage, he could take it for granted that the reader or hearer would understand terminology and pick up allusions.
However this task was completed, it had to be outside the traditional authority structures associated with the Roman Catholic world order. It should thus be apparent that the creeds which sprang from the Reformation are not simply to be assessed from the point of view of their stimulus to economic accumulation. That was Weber's specific interest when he wrote The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, but he clearly saw this as embedded in a much wider context and that was reflected in his work in other places, as in the discussion of authority.