Max Weber in America
Publication Year: 2011
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 America carefully 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 America will fundamentally transform our understanding of this influential thinker and his place in the history of sociology and the social sciences.show less
Published by: Princeton University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dediction
List of Illustrations
This is my second book about Max Weber, and until recent years I harbored doubts about writing it. Surely one contribution is enough in the vast sea of literature on Weber the man, thinker, scientist, and political intellectual. But the problems posed by Weber’s life and work are a source of endless fascination. ...
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 refl ect the person, and the person the work. The fascination has never lost its attractions. ...
Part 1. The American Journey
One: Thoughts about America
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. ...
Two: The Land of Immigrants
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 the Bremen of North German Lloyd, a 10.5-thousand-ton vessel built in Gdansk (Danzig) ...
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, ...
Four: Science and World Culture
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. ...
Five: Remnants of Romanticism
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.” ...
Six: The Color Line
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, ...
Seven: Different Ways of Life
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. ...
Eight: The Protestant Ethic
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. ...
Nine: American Modernity
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. ...
Ten: Interpretation of the Experience
As the Hamburg headed 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.” ...
Part 2. The Work in America
Eleven: The Discovery of the Author
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— ...
Twelve: The Creation of the Sacred Text
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 chapter PESC), a truly canonical book that has been called sociology’s “most famous” work, published in 1930 with Talcott Parsons as the translator. ...
Thirteen: The Invention of the Theory
The fate of Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is 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. ...
Appendix 1: Max and Marianne Weber’s Itinerary for the American Journey in 1904
Appendix 2: Max Weber, Selected Correspondence with American Colleagues, 1904–5
Archives and Collections Consulted