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Max Weber in America

Max Weber in America

Lawrence A. Scaff
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 326
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    Max Weber in America
    Book Description:

    Max Weber, widely considered a founder of sociology and the modern social sciences, visited the United States in 1904 with his wife Marianne. The trip was a turning point in Weber's life and it played a pivotal role in shaping his ideas, yet until now virtually our only source of information about the trip was Marianne Weber's faithful but not always reliable 1926 biography of her husband.Max Weber in Americacarefully reconstructs this important episode in Weber's career, and shows how the subsequent critical reception of Weber's work was as American a story as the trip itself.

    Lawrence Scaff provides new details about Weber's visit to the United States--what he did, what he saw, whom he met and why, and how these experiences profoundly influenced Weber's thought on immigration, capitalism, science and culture, Romanticism, race, diversity, Protestantism, and modernity. Scaff traces Weber's impact on the development of the social sciences in the United States following his death in 1920, examining how Weber's ideas were interpreted, translated, and disseminated by American scholars such as Talcott Parsons and Frank Knight, and how the Weberian canon, codified in America, was reintroduced into Europe after World War II.

    A landmark work by a leading Weber scholar,Max Weber in Americawill fundamentally transform our understanding of this influential thinker and his place in the history of sociology and the social sciences.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3671-0
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    (pp. 1-8)

    From the beginning, discussion of Max Weber’s writings and ideas has been interwoven with a fascination for his life. Karl Jaspers established the point of view early in his retrospective appreciations: the work was seen to reflect the person, and the person the work. The fascination has never lost its attractions. This can seem surprising, for Weber’s life was in some ways so unexceptional. What did he reallydo, after all? His meteoric rise in the university world was cut short by illness. He actually served on faculties only at the beginning and end of his career, and for barely...


      (pp. 11-24)

      Max Weber was an indefatigable and enthusiastic traveler. In the two decades between his marriage to Marianne Schnitger in 1893 and the outbreak of World War I he journeyed to England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, Switzerland, Corsica, Austria-Hungary, Holland, Belgium, the United States, and again and again to northern and southern Italy. These trips served different purposes: a honeymoon and tourism in the early travels with Marianne to the UK and France in 1893 and 1895; escape from the pressures of work and recovery from emotional turmoil in the many flights south into France and Italy after 1898; and...

      (pp. 25-38)

      Max and Marianne Weber left Heidelberg on August 17, 1904, and they returned home by train through Paris after docking at Cherbourg, France, on November 27—a journey of over three months. The Atlantic passage to the United States was aboard theBremenof North German Lloyd, a 10.5-thousand-ton vessel built in Gdansk (Danzig) that departed from Bremerhaven, Germany, on Saturday, August 20, and proceeded to Southampton, England, for additional passengers. The ship was sighted south of Fire Island as it approached New York’s Ellis Island the evening of August 29, according to theNew York Times. Passengers disembarked the...

      (pp. 39-53)

      On September 9, 1904, Max and Marianne Weber left Niagara Falls by train for Chicago, where they remained for eight days, with Ernst Troeltsch and Paul Hensel following a day later. They had accommodations in the new Auditorium Building on Michigan Avenue, the early contribution to a modern American style of building by the German-born Dankmar Adler and his partner, Louis Sullivan, completed in 1889 and today the home of Roosevelt University. The stop at the German immigrant community in North Tonawanda, New York, had been the first objective prior to arriving in St. Louis, Missouri, for the Congress of...

      (pp. 54-72)

      The Congress of Arts and Science was scheduled for the week of September 19, 1904, in St. Louis, Missouri; it was a massive affair of 128 sections assessing the state of knowledge in the human, biological, and physical sciences; medicine; law; the humanities; religion; and education. Some three hundred papers were presented, not including the short papers and commentaries. Weber spoke in a social science panel concerned with rural communities on the afternoon of September 21. At the same time Ernst Troeltsch delivered his paper discussing William James’sThe Varieties of Religious Experience, a “masterpiece” of “remarkable richness” as he...

      (pp. 73-97)

      Writing from St. Louis, Missouri, on September 27, 1904, Marianne Weber first reported that her husband Max had decided to travel “into the southern ‘wilderness,’ that is to Oklahoma, a region settled very recently, where he wants to inquire into the farmers’ living conditions,” adding that she would stay behind because “otherwise there is nothing to see there, and everything is still quite primitive.” She remained at the Lindell Boulevard mansion with the family of August and Willamina Gehner, returning to the Universal Exposition “to see the Filipinos and the Indians”—that is, the large Philippine exhibit and the Indian...

      (pp. 98-116)

      Max Weber’s resolve to travel through the American South probably was a matter of long standing, connected to the fate of his relatives, the descendants of Georg Friedrich Fallenstein, and encouraged by the commentaries of Friedrich Kapp. However, the reasons for choosing the lengthy trek from St. Louis, Missouri, through Memphis, Tennessee, to New Orleans, then north through Tuskegee, Alabama, to Atlanta and beyond are not entirely clear. Like Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont, he was interested in questions about race and the consequences of slavery, and he might well have been curious about the survival of French...

      (pp. 117-136)

      After leaving the Tuskegee Institute the Webers’ route through the South to Washington, D.C., followed the railroad lines through Atlanta; Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee; Asheville and Greensboro, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia—five states and over a thousand miles in ten days—arriving in Washington on the evening of October 18, 1904. These ten days were especially fast-paced, as they included the visits with the American relatives, descendents of Georg Friedrich Fallenstein and his first wife, Elisabeth Benecke, an aspect of the journey under discussion with Max’s mother, Helene Weber, before leaving Germany. She was concerned about the circumstances of...

      (pp. 137-160)

      After saying farewell to the North Carolina relatives, the Webers set their sights on continuing by train to the two Civil War capitols—Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.—followed by a return to the East Coast. Marianne had conquered her migraine but still suffered from asthma and a cold, recovering at last only in Philadelphia. Max commented that they might have stayed longer at Mt. Airy had it not been for her poor health, and he gave a similar reason for not returning to Atlanta after October 20 to visit W.E.B. Du Bois.

      The stop in Richmond offered nothing more...

      (pp. 161-180)

      The journey from Boston to New York City by train followed the route through Providence, Rhode Island and New Haven, Connecticut. Writing to Hugo Münsterberg from Philadelphia, Max Weber had expressed the intention of stopping at both Brown University and Yale University, still in search of library holdings related to Puritanism and the Protestant sects. Armed with a recommendation from Münsterberg, he managed only the brief excursion to Brown, with amusing and revealing results. Weber made a point of noting that he was in “the oldest homeland on earth of freedom of conscience (Roger Williams) and the separation of state...

      (pp. 181-194)

      As theHamburgheaded for open sea, Max Weber wrote with amusement that New York, the “wonderfully attractive city,” now “lies behind us in the mists of a beautiful winter night, and everything is over—‘après nous le deluge,’ and perhaps ‘dans nous’ also—for yesterday night we were still in the Jewish quarter until 1:30 a.m.” He also did a quick calculation of the costs of the transatlantic passages and the time in America, a total of three months and twelve days from the Heidelberg departure to the return: about 7,000 Marks, minus the Congress of Arts and Science’s...


      (pp. 197-210)

      Max Weber’s present reputation is dependent importantly on his reception in the English-speaking world. Yet the American reception—the translation, publication, reading, and diffusion of his work, and its effect on the disciplines, on scholarship, and intellectual life generally in the United States—was a lengthy and unusually complex affair, one that continues to this day. His writings were essentially unknown during his lifetime. Then, in the 1920s, the beginnings of an interest in Weber’s work led to the gradual translation and incorporation of his thought into the social science disciplines, college and university curricula, and even public discourse. Leaving...

      (pp. 211-228)

      Of all of Max Weber’s texts, one stands alone for its special significance as an expression of his originality and as the basis for his reputation:The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism(hereafter in this chapterPESC), a truly canonical book that has been called sociology’s “most famous” work, published in 1930 with Talcott Parsons as the translator. It was the second of Weber’s works to appear in English, following Knight’s translation ofGeneral Economic History, and the two were the only translated texts widely available until the postwar cascade of translations, beginning with the selection of writings...

      (pp. 229-252)

      The fate of Max Weber’sProtestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalismis a compelling chapter in the sociology of knowledge. The social forces affecting Talcott Parsons’s translation offer a larger lesson about the politics and sociology of the articulation, presentation and dissemination of Weber’s thought. The lesson applies to subsequent developments as well—especially the second and third crucial steps forward for Weber’s American and Anglophone readership: the timely postwar publication in 1946 of Hans Gerth’s translations, assisted by C. Wright Mills, of some of the most important texts from the Weber corpus inFrom Max Weber: Essays in...

  8. APPENDIX 1: Max and Marianne Weber’s Itinerary for the American Journey in 1904
    (pp. 253-256)
  9. APPENDIX 2: Max Weber, Selected Correspondence with American Colleagues, 1904–5
    (pp. 257-266)
    (pp. 267-268)
    (pp. 269-304)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 305-312)