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Barbarism of Reason

Barbarism of Reason

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 312
  • Book Info
    Barbarism of Reason
    Book Description:

    The recent renewal of interest in Max Weber evidences an attempt to enlist his thought in the service of a renewed dream of Enlightenment individualism. Yet he was the first twentieth-century thinker to fully appreciate the pervasiveness and ambiguity of rationalization which threatened to undermine the hopes of the Enlightenment.

    Asher Horowitz and Terry Maley present a collection of essays tracing the contemporary significance of Weber's work for the tradition of Enlightenment political thought and its critiques. In its critical inquiry into Weber's thought, The Barbarism of Reason continues the exploration of the limits and prospects of politics in a rationalizing society.

    The first section comprises a set of both historical and philosophical reflections on the political implications of Weber's central concepts such as disenchantment, rationality, and affectivity, the historical understanding, meaning, and domination. The second section examines the institutional and historical context that framed Weber's inquiries into structures of the modern mode of domination, as well as his understanding of the nature of the modern state. Among the topics broached are Weber's strategic intervention into the development of the liberal theory of the state as well as a critical examination of the theoretical and pre-theoretical roots of his construction of the subject. Another of the essays reveals the schizophrenic structure of modern subjectivity. The third and last section attempts to trace the vicissitudes of Weber's seminal problems concerning rationalization, power, and disenchantment through some of the most important responses to his work in the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7118-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    Max Weber’s work is exemplary in expressing and at least partially articulating the moment at which the Enlightenment becomes irreversibly reflective concerning its own reason. In the period of its innocence up to Nietzsche, the historical enlightenment in the European West was supremely confident that it had grasped the meaning of rationality and was also entirely sanguine about the effects of rationalization. In the contemporary world the rationality that once fought to fill the vacuum left by adeus absconditusincreasingly appears in the guise of a malicious spirit. The empire of reason has cast off its cloak of benevolence:...

  5. Part I Reason and Disenchantment

    • 2 Max Weber and the Legacy of Critical Idealism
      (pp. 21-48)

      Max Weber was not a philosopher, yet much of his thought cannot be understood except in relation to modern philosophy, more narrowly German idealism.¹ While his formal training in this discipline was limited to Kant’sCritique of Pure Reason,selections of which he read in high school, and two philosophy courses audited at the University of Heidelberg during his first year of study, he had an intense interest in some of the philosophical debates of his time, appropriating them for his own purposes. I will argue in this chapter that these appropriations were not always successful. Substantively, I will look...

    • 3 Max Weber and the Modern State
      (pp. 49-67)

      We are today the heirs – the reluctant heirs – of Max Weber. In bold and penetrating strokes, his sprawling opus pinpointed the sinews of our restless strivings as well as our frustrations. It was Max Weber who, in the opening decades of this century, captured the path of Western society as a process of relentless rationalization geared towards growing efficiency – a process of which we are both the beneficiaries and the targets or victims. With his notion of ‘disenchantment,’ Weber laid bare the motor or inner dynamism of Western progress seen as man’s ascendancy over nature and the...

    • 4 Nietzsche and Weber: When Does Reason Become Power?
      (pp. 68-96)

      The question ‘When does reason become power?’ is not one that Nietzsche or Weber would have put quite in this way. Reason, they would argue, is always a kind of power. To ask when reason becomes power gestures towards this possibility, but also presupposes that in some fundamental way reason and power are separable and even opposed kinds of interaction. The question supposes that there is some merit to the more optimistic side of the liberal view of reason – not the Hobbesian one, where reasons of utility reduce to a calculus of power, but the Kantian one, in which...

  6. Part II Politics, Time, and Bourgeois Modernity

    • 5 Max Weber and the Liberal Political Tradition
      (pp. 99-112)

      Anyone who writes about Weber’s political thought confronts a methodological problem at the outset: whether to consider it within a German or a European context, or, if both together, what connection to make between the two. This problem applies with particular force to a consideration of Weber and the liberal political tradition. Which tradition are we talking about? As is well known, German liberalism had its own distinctive tradition, shaped by its defeat in 1848, its surrender to Bismarck and the emergence of a national liberalism in the 1870s, and its compression in the Wilhelmine Reich between the twin forces...

    • 6 Max Weber and the Bourgeoisie
      (pp. 113-138)

      What does Max Weber mean by the words ‘scientifically objective’? Only recently have scholars been able to ask that question in its proper context. This essay is an exploration of that context and, I hope, an answer to the question. Until recently, Max Weber’s work has served for Anglo-American social scientists as a paradigm of detached and ‘value-free’ social science. That this understanding responded to needs buried deep in the collective psyche of English-language social science now seems evidence – not even the writings available in English translation supported the vision of Weber as the dispassionate social scientist the Americans...

    • 7 The Politics of Time: Subjectivity and Modernity in Max Weber
      (pp. 139-166)

      In his incessant political battles and writings, in his methodological reflections, in his searing analysis of the seemingly irresistable march of an increasingly instrumental rationality through Occidental culture, Max Weber struggles to come to grips with the cultural significance of a modernity which has outlived and superseded the Enlightenment. Those practices and institutional arrangements which, in the eighteenth century, were to make people free, had, by the end of the nineteenth, given way to the rationalization of the world. The advent of huge structures of bureaucratic, disciplinary domination and rationalized, large-scale capitalism fundamentally reorganized the time and space within which...

  7. Part III The Dilemmas of Rationalization

    • 8 Mannheim and the Early Frankfurt School: The Weber Reception of Rival Traditions of Critical Sociology
      (pp. 169-194)

      To speak of post-Weberian social theory is simply to acknowledge the epochal significance of Max Weber’s work (which is often most enlightening when most wrong-headed to his opponents), and to recognize that certain fundamental issues of social theory – especially in the Marxist tradition – can no longer be thought about in the same way. In the present instance, the focus of attention will be a specific response to the political left of Weber which began in the Weimar Republic and was continued in exile.

      If the metaphors of domination for Marx were concretely the alienation of the sweatshop, and...

    • 9 The Comedy of Enlightenment: Weber, Habermas, and the Critique of Reification
      (pp. 195-222)

      Nowhere is the spell that Max Weber has cast over subsequent political thinking stronger than in the tradition of Western Marxism. It is this very spell, specifically the appropriation of Weber’s universal-historical analysis of rationalization leading to the spectre of an ‘iron cage,’ that in large part accounts for Jürgen Habermas’s attempt inThe Theory of Communicative Actionto dispel the pessimism associated with the critiques of rationalization advanced by Lukács, Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse. In Habermas’s work an alternative theory of reification is taking shape that owes as much to Weber as do the theoretical efforts of Habermas’s predecessors....

    • 10 The World Disenchanted, and the Return of Gods and Demons
      (pp. 223-247)

      ‘Tell the emperor that my hall has fallen to the ground. Phoibos [Apollo] no longer has his house nor his mantic bay nor his prophetic spring; the water has dried up.’ This is the Delphic Oracle’s response, one of its final utterances, to Emperor Julian’s envoy.¹ After a long, supreme reign, the god of light disappears; ruins, desiccation, and silence follow. The temple is now an empty shell.

      In a totally different time and place, Albert Camus affirms life against death, mortals against gods. Sisyphus and Prometheus are his mythic protagonists. With evocative lyricism Camus issues ‘a lucid invitation to...

    • 11 The Revenge of the Sacred: Technology and Re-enchantment
      (pp. 248-266)

      It is intriguing that the person who presented us with an image of modernity as stark and uncompromising as the ‘iron cage’ should have entertained the prospect of alternative futures. After all, a cage, like a prison, restricts and homogenizes experience so that the ‘same day’ is relived by its inhabitants in perpetuity. There is no future – no tomorrow – for these persons, because every ‘tomorrow’ is merely a replay of a self-same today. Likewise there is no past, at least not in a meaningful sense, for every ‘yesterday’ is simply the trace of a today grown old. Time...

    • 12 Max Weber and Post-Positivist Social Theory
      (pp. 267-286)

      InTruth and Method(1975) Gadamer claims that understanding always involves a fusion of horizons: the horizon of the interpreter and the horizon of the text. What this means is that we necessarily understand the work of an author, particularly one removed from us in time, in terms of the questions and concerns of the present. It follows that the interpretation of any thinker will change over time as the problems of his or her interpreters change. This insight is an important preface to a contemporary examination of Weber’s social theory and, particularly, his philosophy of social science. The work...

    • 13 Max Weber: Legitimation, Method, and the Politics of Theory
      (pp. 287-310)

      Max Weber is widely regarded as one of the founders of twentieth-century social science and probably its greatest practitioner. Modern and ancient theorists commonly believed that founding – or giving a form or constitution to collective life – was reckoned to be the most notable action of which political man is capable. It is superior to other types of political acts because it aims to shape the lives of citizens by designing the structure or ‘dwelling’ which they and their posterity will inhabit. In describing this extraordinary action, political theorists often had recourse to architectural metaphors: the founder ‘lays foundations.’...

  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 311-312)