German Sociologist and Political Economist
"The earning of more and more money, combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life... is thought of so purely as an end in itself, that from the point of view of happiness of, or utility to, the single individual, it appears entirely transcendental and absolutely irrational. Man is dominated by the making of money, by acquisition as the ultimate purpose of his life. Economic acquisition is no longer subordinated to man as the means for the satisfaction of his material needs."
"To attain... self confidence, intense worldly activity is recommended as the most suitable means. It and it alone disperses religious doubts and gives the certainty of grace.. The moral conduct of the average man was thus deprived of its planless and unsystematic character and subjected to a consistent method for conduct as a whole."
"Ideas come when we do not expect them, and not when we are brooding and searching at our desks. Yet ideas would certainly not come to mind had we not brooded at our desks and searched for answers with passionate devotion."
"Man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible."
"The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the ''disenchantment of the world.'' Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental."
"It is true that the path of human destiny cannot but appal him who surveys a section of it. But he will do well to keep his small personal commentarie to himself, as one does at the sight of the sea or of majestic mountains, unless he knows himself to be called and gifted to give them expression in artistic or prophetic form. In most other cases, the voluminous talk about intuition does nothing but conceal a lack of perspective toward the object, which merits the same judgement as a similar lack of perspective toward men."
"The experience of the irrationality of the world has been the driving force of all religious revolution."
"The modern man is in general, even with the best will, unable to give religious ideas a significance for culture and national character which they deserve. But one can, of course, not aim to replace a one-sided materialistic with an equally one-sided spiritualistic causal interpretation of culture and of history. Each is equally possible, but each, if it does not serve as the preparation, but as the conclusion of an investigation, accomplish equally little in the interest of historical truth."
"Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth - that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today."
"Since Judaism made Christianity possible and gave it the character of a religion essentially free from magic, it rendered an important service from the point of view of economic history. For the dominance of magic outside the sphere in which Christianity has prevailed in one of the most serious obstructions to the rationalization of economic life. Magic involves a stereotyping of technology and economic relations. When attempts were made in China to inaugurate the building of railroads and factories a conflict with geomancy ensued ... Similar is the relation to capitalism of the castes in India. Every new technical process which an Indian employs signifies for him first of all that he leaves his caste and falls into another, necessarily lower ... An additional fact is that every caste makes every other caste impure. In consequence, workmen who dare not accept a vessel filled with water from each other's hands, cannot be employed together in the same factory room. Obviously, capitalism could not develop in an economic group thus bound hand and foot by magical means."
"Mysticism intends a state of "possession," not action, and the individual is not a tool but a "vessel" of the divine. Action in the world must thus appear as endangering the absolutely irrational and other-worldly religious state. Active asceticism operates within the world; rationally active asceticism, in mastering the world, seeks to tame what is creatural and wicked through work in a worldly "vocation" (inner-worldly asceticism). Such asceticism contrasts radically with mysticism, if the latter draws the full conclusion of fleeing from the world (contemplative flight from the world). The contrast is tempered, however, if active asceticism confines itself to keeping down and to overcoming creatural wickedness in the actor's own nature. For then it enhances the concentration on the firmly established God-willed and active redemptory accomplishments to the point of avoiding any action in the orders of the world (asceticist flight from the world). Thereby active asceticism in external bearing comes close to contemplative flight from the world. The contrast between asceticism and mysticism is also tempered if the contemplative mystic does not draw the conclusion that he should flee from the world, but, like the inner-worldly asceticist, remain in the orders of the world (inner-worldly mysticism). In both cases the contrast can actually disappear in practice and some combination of both forms of the quest for salvation may occur. But the contrast may continue to exist even under the veil of external similarity. For the true mystic the principle continues to hold: the creature must be silent so that God may speak."
"[In] the realm of science... what we have achieved will be obsolete in ten, twenty or fifty years. That is the fate, indeed, that is the very meaning of scientific work. ... Every scientific “fulfillment” raises new “questions” and cries out to be surpassed rendered obsolete. Everyone who wishes to serve science has to resign himself to this. "
"The impulse to acquisition, pursuit of gain, of money, of the greatest possible amount of money, has in itself nothing to do with capitalism. This impulse exists and has existed among waiters, physicians, coachmen, artists, prostitutes, dishonest officials, soldiers, nobles, crusaders, gamblers, and beggars. One may say that it has been common to all sorts and conditions of men at all times and in all countries of the earth, wherever the objective possibility of it is or has been given. It should be taught in the kindergarten of cultural history that this naïve idea of capitalism must be given up once and for all."
"A fully developed bureaucratic mechanism stands in the same relationship to other forms as does the machine to the non-mechanical production of goods. Precision, speed, clarity, documentary ability, continuity, discretion, unity, rigid subordination, reduction of friction and material and personal expenses are unique to bureaucratic organization."
"All knowledge of cultural reality, as may be seen, is always knowledge from particular points of view."
"All the analysis of infinite reality which the finite human mind can conduct rests on the tacit assumption that only a finite portion of this reality constitutes the object of scientific investigation, and that only it is 'important' in the sense of being 'worthy of being known.'"
"All research in the cultural sciences in an age of specialization, once it is oriented towards a given subject matter through particular settings of problems and has established its methodological principles, will consider the analysis of the data as an end in itself."
"'Culture' is a finite segment of the meaningless infinity of the world process, a segment on which human beings confer meaning and significance."
"Causal analysis provides absolutely no value judgment, and a value judgment is absolutely not a causal explanation."
"Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth - that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible."
"Daily and hourly, the politician inwardly has to overcome a quite trivial and all-too-human enemy: a quite vulgar vanity."
"In order that a manner of life well adapted to the peculiarities of the capitalism? could come to dominate others, it had to originate somewhere, and not in isolated individuals alone, but as a way of life common to the whole groups of man."
"For the true mystic the principle continues to hold: the creature must be silent so that God may speak."
"In a democracy the people choose a leader in whom they trust. Then the chosen leader says, 'Now shut up and obey me.' People and party are then no longer free to interfere in his business."
"In order to make possible a rational utilization of the means of production, a system of in-kind accounting would have to determine "value" ? indicators of some kind for the individual capital goods which could take over the role of the "prices" used in book valuation in modern business accounting. But it is not at all clear how such indicators could be established and in particular, verified; whether, for instance, they should vary from one production unit to the next (on the basis of economic location), or whether they should be uniform for the entire economy, on the basis of "social utility," that is, of (present and future) consumption requirements.... Nothing is gained by assuming that, if only the problem of a non-monetary economy were seriously enough attacked, a suitable accounting method would be discovered or invented. The problem is fundamental to any kind of complete socialization. We cannot speak of a rational "planned economy" so long as in this decisive respect we have no instrument for elaborating a rational "plan"."
"In the midst of a culture that is rationally organized for a vocational workaday life, there is hardly any room for the cultivation of a cosmic brotherliness, unless it is among strata who are economically carefree. Under the technical and social conditions of rational culture, an imitation of the life of Buddha, Jesus, or Francis seems condemned to failure for purely external reasons."
"It goes without saying that religions must clash with scientific truth insofar as they assert empirical facts or the causal impact on them of something supernatural. However, when I studied modern Catholic literature in Rome a few years ago, I became convinced how hopeless is to think that there are any scientific results this church cannot digest. The steady slow impact of the practical consequences of our view of nature and history may perhaps make these ecclesiastical powers wither away (unless such fools as Ernst Haeckel will spoil everything), but no anti-clericalism based on 'metaphysical' naturalism can accomplish this. I could not honestly participate in such anti-clericalism. It is true that I am absolutely unmusical in matters religious and that I have neither the need nor the ability to erect any religious edifices within me ? that is simply impossible for me, and I reject it. But after examining myself carefully I must say that I am neither anti-religious nor irreligious. In this regard too I consider myself a cripple, a stunted man whose fate it is to admit honestly that he must put up with this state of affairs (so as not to fall for some romantic swindle). I am like a tree stump from which new shoots can sometimes grow, but I must not pretend to be a grown tree. From this follows quite a bit: For you a theologian of liberal persuasion (whether Catholic or Protestant) is necessarily most abhorrent as the typical representative of a halfway position; for me he is in human terms infinitely more valuable and interesting... than the intellectual (and basically cheap) pharisaism of naturalism, which is intolerably fashionable and in which there is much less life than in the religious position (again, depending on the case, of course!)"
"It is not astonishing that there are many journalists who have become human failures and worthless men. Rather, it is astonishing that, despite all this, this very stratum includes such a great number of valuable and quite genuine men, a fact that outsiders would not so easily guess."
"It is not true that good can follow only from good and evil only from evil, but that often the opposite is true. Anyone who fails to see this is, indeed, a political infant."
"It is horrible to think that the world could one day be filled with nothing but those little cogs, little men clinging to little jobs and striving towards bigger ones - a state of affairs which is to be seen once more, as in the Egyptian records, playing an ever-increasing part in the spirit of our present administrative system, and especially of its offspring, the students. This passion for bureaucracy... is enough to drive one to despair. It is as if in politics... we were deliberately to become men who need order and nothing but order, become nervous and cowardly if for one moment this order wavers, and helpless if they are torn away from their total incorporation in it. That the world should know no men but these: it is such an evolution that we are already caught up, and the great question is, therefore, not how we can promote and hasten it, but what can we oppose to this machinery in order to keep a portion of mankind free from this parceling-out of the soul, from this supreme mastery of the bureaucratic way of life."
"No sociologist should think himself too good, even in his old age, to make tens of thousands of quite trivial computations in his head and perhaps for months at a time. One cannot with impunity try to transfer this task entirely too mechanical assistants if one wishes to figure something, even though the final result is often small indeed."
"Laws are important and valuable in the exact natural sciences, in the measure that those sciences are universally valid."
"Only by strict specialization can the scientific worker become fully conscious, for once and perhaps never again in his lifetime, that he has achieved something that will endure. A really definitive and good accomplishment is today always a specialized act."
"Only he has the calling for politics who is sure that he will not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say ''In spite of all!'' has the calling for politics."
"Not everyone realizes that to write a really good piece of journalism is at least as demanding intellectually as the achievement of any scholar."
"One can say that three pre-eminent qualities are decisive for the politician: passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion."
"Power is the chance to impose your will within a social context, even when opposed and regardless of the integrity of that chance."
"Only on the assumption of belief in the validity of values is the attempt to espouse value-judgments meaningful. However, to judge the validity of such values is a matter of faith."
"Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and of material and personal costs - these are raised to the optimum point in the strictly bureaucratic administration."
"Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved."
"The capacity for the accomplishment of religious virtuosos ? the ?intellectual sacrifice?? is the decisive characteristic of the positively religious man. That this is so is shown by the fact that in spite of (or rather in consequence) of theology (which unveils it) the tension between the value-spheres of ?science? and the sphere of ?the holy? is unbridgeable."
"Social economic problems do not exist everywhere that an economic event plays a role as cause or effect - since problems arise only where the significance of those factors is problematical and can be precisely determined only through the application of methods of social-economics."
"Sociology is] the science whose object is to interpret the meaning of social action and thereby give a causal explanation of the way in which the action proceeds and the effects which it produces. By "action" in this definition is meant the human behavior when and to the extent that the agent or agents see it as subjectively meaningful ... the meaning to which we refer may be either (a) the meaning actually intended either by an individual agent on a particular historical occasion or by a number of agents on an approximate average in a given set of cases, or (b) the meaning attributed to the agent or agents, as types, in a pure type constructed in the abstract. In neither case is the "meaning" to be thought of as somehow objectively "correct" or "true" by some metaphysical criterion. This is the difference between the empirical sciences of action, such as sociology and history and any kind of a priori discipline, such as jurisprudence, logic, ethics, or aesthetics whose aim is to extract from their subject-matter "correct" or "valid" meaning."
"The career of politics grants a feeling of power. The knowledge of influencing men, of participating in power over them, and above all, the feeling of holding in one's hands a nerve fiber of historically important events can elevate the professional politician above everyday routine even when he is placed in formally modest positions."
"The decisive reason for the advance of the bureaucratic organization has always been its purely technical superiority over any other form of organization."
"The development of the concept of the calling quickly gave to the modern entrepreneur a fabulously clear conscience ? and also industrious workers; he gave to his employees as the wages of their ascetic devotion to the calling and of co-operation in his ruthless exploitation of them through capitalism the prospect of eternal salvation."