Can you be a scholar in science

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Max Weber

Science as a profession [581]1

If you want me to talk about "science as a profession". Now it is a certain pedantry on the part of us economists that I would like to hold on to: that we always start from external conditions, here therefore from the question: How is science designed as a profession in the material sense of the word? Practically today, however, this essentially means: What is the situation of a graduate student who is determined to devote himself professionally to science within academic life? In order to understand what the peculiarity of our German conditions is, it is useful to proceed comparatively and to visualize what it looks like abroad where there is the sharpest opposition to us in this respect: in the United States.

With us - everyone knows - the career of a young man who dedicates himself to science as a profession usually begins as a "private lecturer". After consultation and with the consent of the relevant specialist representative, he does his habilitation at a university on the basis of a book and a mostly more formal examination in front of the faculty and now holds, unpaid, lectures, the subject matter of which he is remunerated only through the college fees of the students his own venia legendi. In America, the career normally begins quite differently, namely by being employed as an assistant. In a similar way, for example, to what happens with us at the large institutes of the natural sciences and medical faculties, where the formal habilitation as a private lecturer is only sought by a fraction of the assistants and often only at a late stage. In practical terms, the opposite means that the career of a man in science in our country is generally based on plutocratic premises. For it is extraordinarily daring for a young scholar who has no means whatsoever to expose himself to the conditions of an academic career. He must be able to hold out for at least a number of years without somehow knowing whether he will later have a chance of moving into a position which will be sufficient for a living. In the United States, on the other hand, there is a bureaucratic system. The young man is paid right from the start. Modest, of course. The salary usually hardly corresponds to the wages of a not completely unskilled worker. After all: he starts with a seemingly secure position, because he is permanently paid. The only rule is that, like our assistant, he can be fired, and in many cases he has to face that ruthlessly if he does not live up to expectations. But these expectations are that he will make "full houses". That cannot happen to a German private lecturer. Once you have it, you cannot get rid of it. It is true that he has no "claims". But he has the understandable idea: that if he has been active for years, he has a kind of moral right to be taken into consideration. Also - this is often important - with the question of the possible habilitation of other private lecturers. The question: whether one should basically habilitate every scientist who is properly legitimized or whether one should take into account the "teaching needs", i.e. give the lecturers who already exist a monopoly of teaching, is an embarrassing dilemma, which with the soon to be mentioned double face of the academic profession. Usually you choose the second one. This means, however, an increase in the risk that the subject ordinary in question, with subjectively greatest conscientiousness, will give preference to his own students. Personally, I have - to say it - followed the principle: that a scholar who has a doctorate with me should work with you to change than I have to legitimize and habilitate elsewhere. But the result was: that one of my most capable students was turned away elsewhere because no one told him believedthat this is the reason.

Another difference to America is that with us [583] generally the private lecturer has Less to do with lectures as he wishes. He can, according to the law, read every lecture in his subject. However, this is considered to be undue ruthlessness towards the older existing lecturers, and as a rule the specialist representatives hold the "big" lectures and the lecturer is content with secondary lectures. The advantage is that, albeit somewhat involuntarily, he has his young years free for scientific work.

In America it is basically organized differently. Especially in his younger years, the lecturer is absolutely overwhelmed because he is paid is. In a German department, for example, the full professor will read about a three-hour course on Goethe and thus: enough - while the younger assistant is happy if, at twelve hours a week, besides learning the German language, he is up to poets of rank Uhlands gets assigned something up. Because the official technical bodies prescribe the curriculum, and the assistant is just as dependent on it as our institute assistant is.

Now we can clearly observe that the most recent developments in the university system in broad areas of science are in the direction of America. The great institutes of a medical or scientific nature are "state capitalist" enterprises. They cannot be managed without the greatest possible resources. And the same circumstance occurs there as everywhere where the capitalist enterprise comes into play: the "separation of the worker from the means of production". The worker, the assistant, is dependent on the work equipment made available by the state; as a result, he is just as dependent on the institute director as an employee in a factory: - because the institute director imagines in good faith that this institute is "be" Institute, and switch to it - and it is often just as precarious as any "proletaroid" existence and like the assistant at the American university.

Our German university life, like our life in general, is becoming Americanized in very important points, and I am convinced that this development will continue to spill over into the subjects where, as is still the case today to a large extent in my subject, the Craftsman owns the work equipment (essentially: the library) himself, quite accordingly, [584] as the old craftsman did in the past within the trade. Development is in full swing.

The technical advantages are quite indubitable, as in all capitalist and at the same time bureaucratized companies. But the "spirit" that reigns in them is different from the ancient historical atmosphere of the German universities. There is an extraordinarily great gulf, external and internal, between the boss of such a great capitalist university enterprise and the ordinary old-style professor. Also in the inner attitude. I don't want to go into that any further here. Inside as well as outside is the old universityconstitution become fictional. But one of the universities has remained and has increased significantlycareer own moment: whether such a private lecturer, especially an assistant, ever succeeds in taking the place of a full professor or even an institute director is a simple matter Hazard is. Certainly: not only chance prevails, but it still prevails to an unusually high degree. I hardly know of a career on earth where he plays such a role. I can say this all the more since I personally owe it to some absolute coincidences that I was appointed at a very young age to a full professorship in a subject in which my peers at the time undoubtedly achieved more than I did. And I imagine, however, that based on this experience I have a keen eye for the undeserved fate of the many for whom coincidence has just played the other way round and is still playing, and who despite all their efficiency within this read-out device do not get to the point where would be due to them.

The fact that risk and not efficiency as such play such a great role is not only due, and not even primarily, to the humanities, which naturally appear just as much in this selection as in any other. It would be wrong to hold personal inferiorities of faculties or ministries responsible for the fact that so many mediocrities undoubtedly play a prominent part in universities. Rather, this is due to the laws of human interaction, especially the interaction of several bodies, here: the proposing faculties with the ministries, per se. A counterpart: we [585] can follow the processes of the papal elections for many centuries: the most important controllable example of similar selection of persons. The cardinal who is said to be a "favorite" rarely has the chance to get through. But usually candidate number two or three. The same with the President of the United States: only as an exception the very first, that is, the most pronounced, man, but mostly number two, often number three, comes into the "nomination" of the party conventions and then into the ballot: the Americans already have for these categories technical-sociological expressions are formed, and it would be quite interesting to use these examples to examine the laws of selection through the formation of collective wills. We're not doing that here today. But they also apply to university colleges, and one is not surprised that mistakes are made more often, but that, in proportion, the number of students right Occupation is a very important one despite everything. Only where, as in individual countries, the parliaments or, as with us up to now, the monarchs (both have the same effect) or now revolutionary rulers political If you intervene for reasons, you can be sure that comfortable mediocrity or nerds alone have the chance for themselves.

No university professor likes to think back to casting discussions because they are seldom pleasant. And yet I can say: the good one willThere was no exception in the numerous cases I know of, allowing purely objective reasons to be decided.

For one has to make it clearer: it is not only due to the inadequacy of selection through collective decision-making that the decision of academic fate is so largely a "hazard". Rather, every young man who feels called to be a scholar must realize that the task that awaits him has two faces. He should not only be qualified as a scholar, but also: as a teacher. And the two do not coincide at all. A person can be an excellent scholar and a terribly bad teacher. I remember the teaching activities of men like Helmholtz and Ranke. And these are not rare exceptions. But things are so [586] that our universities, especially the small universities, are in the most ridiculous kind of competition among themselves in terms of frequencies. The house farmers of the university cities celebrate the thousandth student with a festivity, but prefer to celebrate the two thousandth student with a torchlight procession. The interests of the college money - one should admit this openly - are affected by a "strong" occupation of the next adjacent subjects, and apart from that, the number of listeners is a numerically tangible testimonial, while the quality of scholars is imponderable and often (and quite naturally) especially with bold innovators ) is controversial. So mostly everything is under this suggestion of the immeasurable blessing and value of the large number of listeners. When it is said of a lecturer: he is a bad teacher, that is usually the academic death sentence for him, be it the very first scholar in the world. But the question: whether someone is a good or a bad teacher is answered by the frequency with which the students honor him. It is a fact, however, that the fact that the students flock to a teacher is largely determined by external appearances: temperament, even the fall of the voice - to a degree that should not be thought possible. After at least quite extensive experience and sober reflection, I have a deep distrust of the mass colleges, as certain as they are inevitable. Democracy where it belongs. Scientific training, however, as we should do according to the tradition of German universities, is one thing aristocratic of the spirit Matter, we shouldn't hide that from ourselves. On the other hand, it is of course true: the presentation of scientific problems in such a way that an untrained but receptive mind can understand them, and that - which is the only decisive factor for us - comes to independent thinking about them, is perhaps the most difficult educational task of all. Certainly: but the number of listeners does not decide whether it will be resolved. And - to come back to our topic - this very art is a personal gift and does not at all coincide with the scientific qualities of a scholar. In contrast to France, however, we do not have a body of the "immortals" of science; rather, according to our tradition, the universities should meet both requirements: research and teaching. But whether the skills to do this come together in a person is an absolute coincidence.

So academic life is a wild gamble. When young scholars come to ask for advice about a habilitation, the responsibility of persuading them is almost unbearable. If he is a Jew, he is of course told: lasciate ogni speranza. But one must also ask everyone else to their conscience: Do you believe that you can stand it, that year after year mediocrity after mediocrity rises above you without inwardly embittering and corrupting? Then of course you always get the answer: Of course, I only live my "job"; - but at least I have seen only a very few that they can endure it to themselves without internal harm.

So much seemed necessary to say about the external conditions of the academic profession.

But now I think you really want something else: that inner Professions related to science, listen. At the present time, the inner situation vis-à-vis the operation of science as a profession is primarily due to the fact that science has entered a stage of specialization that was previously unknown and that this will remain so for the future. Not only outwardly, no, precisely inwardly, the matter is like this: that the individual can only acquire the sure consciousness of achieving something really perfect in the scientific field in the case of the strictest specialization. All work that encroaches on neighboring areas, as we occasionally do, as sociologists, for example, necessarily have to do it again and again, are burdened with the resigned consciousness: that one is at most useful to the specialist Questions supplies, to which the latter does not fall so easily from his technical point of view, but that his own work must inevitably remain highly imperfect. Only through strict specialization can the scientific worker actually make the full feeling his own, once and perhaps never again in life: here I have achieved something last becomes. A really final and efficient achievement is always today: a specialist achievement. [588] And whoever does not have the ability to put on blinkers, so to speak, and get into the idea that the fate of his soul depends on it: whether he is doing this, precisely this conjecture at this point in this manuscript, is just staying away from science . He will never go through what can be called the "experience" of science. Without this strange intoxication, smiled at by everyone outside, this passion, this: "Millennia had to pass before you came into existence, and other millennia wait in silence": - someone has a profession in science to see whether you will succeed in this conjecture Not and do something else. Because nothing is worth something to a person as a person that he does not understand Passion to do can.

But now it is a fact: that no matter how much of such passion, however genuine and deep it may be, the result can by no means be forced. Of course, it is a precondition for the decisive factor: "inspiration".The idea is very widespread among young people today that science has become an arithmetic model that is fabricated in laboratories or statistical card files with a cool mind and not with the whole "soul", like "in a factory" «. Above all, it should be noted that there is usually no clarity whatsoever about what is going on in a factory or what is going on in a laboratory. Here as there, something has to be done to the person - and the right thing to be precise - come to mind, so that he can do something valuable. But this idea cannot be forced. He has nothing to do with any cold arithmetic. Certainly: that too is an unavoidable precondition. Every sociologist, for example, shouldn't be too good to be doing tens of thousands of very trivial arithmetic examples in his head for months, even in his old age. One does not try with impunity to pass all this on to mechanical assistants if one wants to find out something - and what ultimately comes out is often very little. But unless something definite occurs to him about the direction of his calculation and, during the calculation, about the scope of the individual results that arise, then even this little bit of blood does not come out. The idea is normally only prepared on the basis of very hard work. Certainly: not always. The idea of ​​a dilettante can scientifically have exactly the same or greater significance as that of the specialist. We owe many of our very best problems and insights to amateurs. The dillettante differs from the expert - as Helmholtz said about Robert Mayer - only in that he lacks the firm security of the working method and that he is therefore usually not able to check the scope of the idea and to assess or carry it out. The idea is not a substitute for work. And work on your part cannot replace or force the idea, any more than passion can. Both - above all: both together - lure him. But he comes when he pleases, not when we please. It is indeed true that the best things are as described by Ihering: with the cigar on the sofa, or as Helmholtz states with scientific accuracy: while walking on a slowly rising street, or something similar, but at least then, when you are not expecting it, come to mind, and not while pondering and searching at your desk. They would of course not have occurred to you if you hadn't had that brooding at your desk and if you hadn't had the passionate questioning behind you. But whatever it is: this risk, which is undermined in every scientific work: does the "inspiration" come or not? - the scientific worker has to accept that too. One can be an excellent worker and yet never have had a valuable idea of ​​his own. But it is a grave mistake to believe that this is only the case in science, and, for example, things are different in an office than in a laboratory. A businessman or industrialist without "commercial imagination", i.e. without ideas, ingenious ideas, is only a man throughout his life who would best remain a clerk or technical officer: he will never create new organizational creations. In the field of science, inspiration does not at all play a greater role - as the arrogance of scholars imagines - than in the field of the handling of problems of practical life by a modern entrepreneur. And on the other hand - which is often misunderstood - it plays no less role than in the field of art. It is a childish [590] idea that a mathematician at a desk with a ruler or other mechanical means or calculating machines would arrive at some scientifically valuable result: the mathematical imagination of a Weierstrass is of course completely different in meaning and result than that of one Artist and qualitatively fundamentally different from her. But not according to the psychological process. Both are: intoxication (in the sense of Plato's "manía") and "inspiration".

Well: whether someone has scientific inspiration depends on our hidden fates, but also on "gift". Not least because of that undoubted truth, an attitude that is quite understandably very popular with young people has now placed itself in the service of some idols, whose cult we can find today on all street corners and in all magazines. Those idols are: "personality" and "experience". Both are closely related: the idea prevails that the latter constitutes the former and belongs to it. One torments oneself from experiencing - because that is part of the proper way of life of a personality - and if it does not succeed, then one must at least pretend that one has this gift of grace. This used to be called "experience" in German: "sensation". And of what "personality" was and meant, one had - I believe - a more accurate idea.

Dear attendees! Only he who has "personality" in the scientific field purely of the matter serves. And it is not just in the scientific field. We know of no great artist who has ever done anything other than to serve his cause and only it. As far as his art is concerned, even a personality of Goethe's rank has avenged himself for taking the liberty of wanting to turn his "life" into a work of art. But if one doubts that, - at least one has to be a Goethe to be allowed to do that at all, and at least everyone will admit that: even with someone like him, who appears once every millennium, it has not remained unpaid. It is no different in politics. None of that today. In the field of science, however, someone is certainly not a "personality" who appears on the stage as the impresario of the thing to which he should surrender, wants to legitimize himself through "experience" [591] and asks: How do I prove that I am something other than just an "expert", how do I do it, that I say something, in form or in substance, that no one has said before like me? - a phenomenon that occurs in large numbers today, which seems petty everywhere, and which belittles those who ask so instead of the inner devotion to the task and only to it elevating him to the height and dignity of the cause he claims to serve . This is no different with the artist either.

These preconditions for our work, which are common to art, are now faced with a fate that deeply distinguishes them from artistic work. The scientific work is tied into the course of the Progress. In the field of art, on the other hand, there is - in this sense - no progress. It is not true that a work of art of a time, which new technical means or perhaps the laws of perspective had worked out for, is purely artistically higher for the sake than a work of art that is bare of all knowledge of those means and laws, if it was only appropriate to the material and form, that is, if it chose and shaped its object in such a way that it could be done artfully without applying those conditions and means. A work of art that is really "fulfillment" will never be outbid, it will never become obsolete; the individual can assess his significance for himself personally in different ways; but no one will ever be able to say of a work that is really "fulfillment" in the artistic sense that it has been "overtaken" by another that is also "fulfillment". In contrast, every one of us in science knows that what we have worked will be out of date in 10, 20, 50 years. That is fate, yes: that is the one sense to the work of science, to which it is subject and surrendered, in a very specific sense in relation to all other cultural elements for which it still applies: every scientific "fulfillment" means new "questions" and want Are "outbid" and become obsolete. Everyone who wants to serve science has to come to terms with this. Scientific work can certainly remain important as a "means of pleasure", because of its artistic quality, or as a means of training for work. But to be scientifically overtaken is - let it be repeated - not only the fate of all of us, but the purpose of all of us. We cannot work without hoping that others will get further than us. In principle [592] this progress is infinite. And with that we come to that Problem of meaning of science. After all, it does not go without saying that something that is subject to such a law has meaning and understanding in itself. Why do you do something that in reality never ends and can never come to an end? Now first: for purely practical, in the broader sense of the word: technical purposes: in order to be able to orient our practical actions to the expectations that scientific experience gives us. Well. But that only means something to the practitioner. But what is the inner attitude of the man of science himself to his profession? - if he is looking for one at all. He claims: to pursue science "for its own sake" and not just because others can use it to bring about business or technical success, to nourish themselves, to dress, to illuminate, to govern themselves better. But what does he think it makes sense to achieve with these creations, which are always destined to become obsolete, that is, to allow himself to be involved in this subject-based, infinite operation? This requires some general considerations.

Scientific progress is a fraction, and indeed the most important fraction, of the process of intellectualization to which we have been subject for millennia and to which today we usually take such an extraordinarily negative position.

Let us first make it clear what this intellectualistic rationalization through science and scientifically oriented technology actually means in practice. Is it that we today, for example everyone who sits here in the hall, has a greater knowledge of the living conditions under which he exists than an Indian or a Hottentot? Hardly. Those of us who travel on the tram - unless they are a specialist physicist - have no idea how to get started. He doesn't need to know anything about it either. It is enough for him that he can "count" on the behavior of the tram; he bases his behavior on it; but he knows nothing about how to make a tramway so that it moves. The savage knows this much better from his tools. If we spend money today, I bet that even if there are economic colleagues in the hall, almost everyone will have a different answer ready to the question: How does money make something for it - soon a lot, soon little - can buy? He knows how the savage does it to get his daily food and which institutions serve him. So the increasing intellectualization and rationalization means Not an increasing general knowledge of the living conditions under which one stands. But it means something else: the knowledge of it or the belief in it: that one, when one just wantedto know it anytime couldthat in principle there are no mysterious, unpredictable powers that play a role; rather, all things - in principle - can be through Mastering calculations could. But that means: the disenchantment of the world. Unlike the savage, for whom such powers existed, one no longer has to resort to magical means in order to control or to solicit the spirits. But technical means and calculation do it. This means above all the intellectualization as such.

But does this process of disenchantment, which has continued for millennia in Occidental culture, and in general: this "progress" to which science belongs as a link and driving force, has any meaning that goes beyond the purely practical and technical? You will find this question raised most principally in the works of Leo Tolstoy. He got there by a peculiar way. The whole problem of his brooding turned increasingly to the question: whether the death be a meaningful appearance or not. And the answer with him is: for the civilized man - no. And that is not because the civilized individual life placed in "progress", in the infinite, should, according to its own immanent meaning, have no end. Because there is still another step ahead of those who stand in it; no one who dies stands at the height which lies in infinity. Abraham or some farmer of the old days died "old and full of life" because he was in the organic cycle of life, because his life had brought what it could offer in the evening of his days, because for him there were no riddles he wished to solve it was left over and therefore could have had "enough" of it. A cultured person, however, placed in the constant enrichment of civilization with thoughts, knowledge, problems, can become "tired of life", but not: saturated with life. Because he catches what the life of the spirit always gives birth to anew, yes only the tiniest part, and always only something preliminary, nothing final, and therefore death is a senseless occurrence for him. And because death is meaningless, it is also cultural life as such, which because of its meaningless "progressiveness" stamps death as meaningless. This idea is found throughout his late novels as the keynote of Tolstoy's art.

How do you approach this? Does "progress" as such have a recognizable meaning that goes beyond the technical, so that service to it would become a meaningful profession? The question must be raised. But that is no longer just a question of the profession For science, the problem: what does science as a profession mean for those who devote themselves to it? but rather the other: which one is it job the science within the total life of mankind? and what is their worth?

The contrast between the past and the present is enormous. If you remember the wonderful picture at the beginning of the seventh book of Plato's Politeía: those bound cavemen, whose faces are directed towards the rock face in front of them, behind them lies the source of light which they cannot see, so they only concern themselves with the The shadows she throws on the wall and try to find out how they are connected. Until one of them succeeds in breaking the chains, and he turns around and sees: the sun. He gropes around blinded, stammering what he saw. The others say he's crazy. But gradually he learns to look into the light, and then his task is to go down to the cavemen and lead them up to the light. He is the philosopher, but the sun is the truth of science, which does not seek out illusions and shadows, but rather what is true.

Yes, who is so committed to science today? Today the feeling of young people in particular is more likely the opposite: The thought structures of science are a hidden realm of artificial abstractions that try to capture the blood and sap of real life with their skinny hands without ever catching it. But here in life, in what Plato thought the play of shadows on the walls of the cave was, real reality pulsates: the other things are lifeless ghosts derived from it and nothing else. How did this change take place? The passionate enthusiasm of Plato in the Politeía is ultimately explained by the fact that at that time the meaning of one of the great means of all scientific knowledge was first consciously found: des Conceptual. Its scope was discovered by Socrates. Not from him alone in the world. You can find very similar approaches to a logic to that of Aristotle in India. But nowhere with this awareness of meaning. Here, for the first time, a means seemed to be at hand by which one could put someone in the logical vice so that he would not come out without admitting: either that he knew nothing; or that this and nothing else is the truth that eternal Truth that would never perish, like the doings and doings of blind people. That was the tremendous experience that occurred to the disciples of Socrates. And from this it seemed to follow that if one had only found the correct concept of the beautiful, the good, or perhaps also the bravery, the soul - and whatever it was - that one could then also grasp its true being, and that again seemed to give the way, to know and to teach: how to act correctly in life, above all: as a citizen. Because this was the question that mattered to the Hellenes, who were politically thinking through and through. That is why science was practiced.

In addition to this discovery of the Hellenic spirit, as a child of the Renaissance period, the second great tool of scientific work appeared: the rational experiment, as a means of reliably controlled experience, without which today's empirical science would be impossible. Experiments had also been carried out earlier: physiologically e.g. in India in the service of the ascetic technique of the yogi, in Hellenic antiquity mathematically for technical purposes in warfare, in the Middle Ages e.g. for the purpose of mining. But to have elevated the experiment to the principle of research as such is the achievement of the Renaissance. The pioneers formed the great innovators in the field of art: Lionardo and his kind, especially the experimenters in the music of the 16th century with their experimental pianos. From them the experiment found its way into science, especially [596] through Galileo, and into theory through Bacon; and then it was taken over by the exact individual disciplines at the universities of the continent, initially mainly in Italy and the Netherlands.

What did science mean to these people on the threshold of modern times? For the artistic experimenters of the kind Lionardos and the musical innovators it signified the way to true Art, and that meant for them at the same time: to preserve nature. Art was to be elevated to the rank of science, and that meant at the same time and above all: the artist to the rank of doctor, socially and according to the meaning of his life. That is the ambition on which, for example, Lionardo's painter's book is based. And today? "Science as the way to nature" - that would sound like blasphemy to young people. No, the other way around: redemption from the intellectualism of science in order to return to one's own nature and thus to nature in general! As a complete path to art? There is no need for criticism. - But more was expected of science in the age of the emergence of the exact natural sciences. If you remember Swammerdam's saying: "I am bringing you the proof of God's providence in the anatomy of a louse", you will see what the (indirectly) Protestant and Puritanically influenced scientific work at that time thought of itself as its own task: the Way to god. At that time this was no longer found in the philosophers and their concepts and deductions: - That God could not be found on the path on which the Middle Ages had sought him, that was known to all of the pietistic theology of the time, Spener above all. God is hidden, his ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts. In the exact natural sciences, however, where one could physically grasp one's works, one hoped to get on the track of one's intentions with the world. And today? Who - apart from a few big children, as they find themselves in the natural sciences - still believes today that knowledge of astronomy or biology or physics or chemistry gives us something sense could teach the world, even just something about it: how could one get on the track of such a "meaning" - if it exists? If anything, they are apt to believe in it: that there is such a thing as a "meaning" in the world, to let it die off in the roots! And finally: science as a way "to God"? You, the specifically alien power? Whether he admitted it or not, there will be no doubt in the depths of his mind that this is what she is today. Salvation from the rationalism and intellectualism of science is the basic prerequisite for life in communion with the divine: this or something similar in meaning is one of the basic slogans that one hears from all the feelings of our youth who are religious or striving for religious experience. And not just for the religious, no for the experience in general. The only strange thing is the path that is now being taken: namely, that the only thing that intellectualism had not yet touched: precisely those spheres of the irrational, are now raised into consciousness and scrutinized under its magnifying glass. Because that is what the modern intellectualistic romanticism of the irrational comes to practically. This path to liberation from intellectualism probably brings about the exact opposite of what those who walk it imagine as the goal. - That in naive optimism one can finally use science, that is to say, the technique of mastering life based on it, as the way to luck celebrated - I may, after Nietzsche's devastating criticism of those "last people" who "invented happiness", leave this aside. Who believes in it? - except for a few big children on the chair or in the editorial office?

Let's go back. Under these inner conditions, what is the meaning of science as a profession, since all these earlier illusions: "Path to true being", "Path to true art", "Path to true nature", "Path to true God", "Path to true happiness «, have sunk? Tolstoy gave the simplest answer with the words: “It is pointless because it answers the question that is important to us alone: ​​'What should we do? How should we live? ' gives no answer. ”The fact that she does not give this answer is utterly indisputable. The only question is in what sense it gives "no" answer, and whether instead it might not be able to do something for the person who puts the question right. - One often speaks of science today without any presuppositions. Is there such a thing? It depends on what you mean by that. A prerequisite for any scientific work is the validity of the rules of logic and methodology: these general foundations of our orientation in the world. Well, these assumptions are the least problematic, at least for our particular question. But it is also a prerequisite: that what comes out of scientific work, important in the sense of "worth knowing". And that is where all of our problems are apparently. For this presupposition cannot in turn be proven by the means of science. She only indulges in her ultimate sense interpretwhich one then has to reject or accept, depending on one's own final position on life.

Furthermore, the nature of the relationship between scientific work and these presuppositions varies greatly, depending on their structure. Natural sciences such as physics, chemistry, and astonomy assume as a matter of course that the ultimate laws of cosmic events - as far as science can be constructed - are worth knowing. Not only because one can achieve technical success with this knowledge, but, if it is to be a "profession", "for its own sake". This presupposition itself cannot be proven. And whether this world they describe is worth existing: whether it has a "meaning", and whether it has a meaning: to exist in it, certainly not. They don't ask for that. Or take a practical art teaching as scientifically as highly developed as modern medicine. The general "prerequisite" of medical practice is, to put it trivially, that the task of preserving life as such and of reducing suffering as such is affirmed as much as possible. And that's problematic. The physician receives the terminally ill with his means, even if he pleads for release from life, even if the relatives, to whom this life is worthless, who grant him the release from suffering, to whom the costs of maintaining the worthless life become unbearable - it is perhaps a pathetic lunatic -, his death, admitted or unacknowledged, to wish and have to wish. The medical prerequisites and the penal code alone prevent the doctor from deviating from it. Whether life is worth living and when? - she doesn't ask. All natural sciences give us the answer to the question: What should we do if we life technically[599] want to dominate? If but we should and want to master it technically, and whether it actually makes sense in the end: - they leave that open or assume it for their purposes. Or take a discipline like art history. The fact that there are works of art is given to aesthetics. She tries to find out the conditions under which this state of affairs is present. But it does not raise the question of whether the realm of art might not be a realm of diabolical glory, a realm of this world, therefore ungodly in its depths and in its most inwardly aristocratic spirit contrary to brotherhood. So after that she does not ask: whether there are works of art should. - Or jurisprudence: it determines what applies, according to the rules of legal thinking that is partly compellingly logical and partly bound by conventionally given schemes, i.e.: if certain legal rules and certain methods of their interpretation are recognized as binding. If it should be right, and if She does not respond to these rules that should be drawn up; but it can only state: if one wants success, this legal rule is the appropriate means of attaining it according to the norms of our legal thought. Or take the historical cultural studies. They teach us to understand political, artistic, literary and social cultural phenomena from the conditions in which they arise. But they do not give an answer of their own accord to the question: whether these cultural phenomena exist value were and are to exist, nor do they answer the other question: whether it is worth knowing them. They assume that there is an interest in participating in the community of "civilized people" through this process. But they cannot prove to anyone "scientifically" that this is the case, and the fact that they presuppose it does not at all prove that it is self-evident. Indeed, it is not at all.

Let us stay with the disciplines that are closest to me, that is, with sociology, history, political economy and political theory and those types of cultural philosophy which make their interpretation their task. They say, and I subscribe, that politics does not belong in the classroom. It does not belong there on the part of the students. I would, for example, complain just as much if, for example, in the lecture hall of my former colleague Dietrich Schäfer in Berlin, pacifist students stood around the chair and made noise of the kind that anti-pacifist students did to Professor Foerster, whom I thought about should have done as far as possible in many ways. But politics does not belong there either on the part of the lecturer. Especially not when he deals scientifically with politics, and then least of all. Because practical-political position and scientific analysis of political structures and party position are two different things. When you talk about democracy in a people's assembly, you make no secret of your personal opinion: precisely that: clearly taking sides is the damned duty and obligation. The words that are needed are then not a means of scientific analysis, but of political wooing for the opinion of others. They are not plowshares to loosen the soil of contemplative thinking, but swords against the enemy: weapons. In a lecture or in the classroom, on the other hand, it would be a sacrilege to use the word in this way. If, for example, there is talk of "democracy", its various forms, they analyze in the way they work, determine which individual consequences one or the other has for living conditions, then the other non-democratic forms confront them with the political order and try to get so far that the listener is able to find the point from which he of his can take a position on the final ideals. But the real teacher will be very careful not to impose any position on him, either expressly or by suggestion - for that is of course the most disloyal way of "letting the facts speak for themselves".

Why shouldn't we do that now? Let me start by saying that some very esteemed colleagues are of the opinion that carrying out this self-humiliation would not work at all, and if it were possible it would be a quirk to avoid it. Now you cannot scientifically demonstrate to anyone what your duty as an academic teacher is. One can only ask of him intellectual honesty: to see that the establishment of facts, determination of mathematical or logical facts or the internal structure of cultural goods on the one hand, and on the other hand the answer to the question of the [601] value the culture and its individual contents and thereafter: how to get within the cultural community and the political associations act should - that both of these are utterly and utterly heterogeneous Problems are. If he then asks why he shouldn't treat both of them in the lecture hall, the answer is: because the prophet and the demagogue do not belong on the chair of a lecture hall. Both the prophet and the demagogue are told: "Go out into the streets and speak publicly." That means where criticism is possible. In the lecture hall, where you sit across from your audience, they have to be silent and the teacher to talk, and I consider it irresponsible to consider the fact that the students have to attend a teacher's college for the sake of advancement and that no one is present there, who opposes this with criticism, to take advantage of it in order not to be useful to the listeners, as it is his task, with his knowledge and scientific experience, but to stamp them according to his personal political opinion. It is certainly possible that the individual is only inadequately able to switch off his subjective sympathy. Then he exposes himself to the sharpest criticism in front of the forum of his own conscience. And it does not prove anything, because other, purely factual errors are also possible and yet do not prove anything against the duty: to seek the truth. Also, and especially in the purely scientific interest, I reject it. I offer to show, by means of the works of our historians, that wherever the man of science comes with his own value judgment, there is a full understanding of the facts stops. But that goes beyond today's topic and would require long arguments.

I only ask: How should a devout Catholic on the one hand, and a Freemason on the other hand in a college on the forms of churches and states or on the history of religion, - how should they ever talk about these things at the same time Rating to be brought?! That is impossible. And yet the academic teacher must desire and demand of himself to be useful to one as well as to the other through his knowledge and methods. Now you will rightly say: the devout Catholic will never accept the view of the facts of the course of the development of Christianity which a teacher who is free of his dogmatic presuppositions gives him. Certainly! The difference, however, lies in the following: in the sense of the rejection of religious bondage, science which is "unconditional" does not know the "miracle" and the "revelation". It would be untrue to its own "requirements". The believer knows both. And that "unprecedented" science doesn't seem any less to him - but: also no more - as the acknowledgment: that, if the course of events should be explained without those supernatural interventions that are essential for an empirical explanation as causal factors; it must be explained as it tries to. But he can do this without being unfaithful to his faith.

But then does the achievement of science make no sense at all for someone who is indifferent to the fact as such and only cares about the practical position? Maybe yes. First of all, one thing. If someone is a useful teacher, it is their first duty, their students inconvenient To teach to recognize facts, those, I mean, which are inconvenient for his party opinion; and there are such extremely uncomfortable facts for every party opinion - e.g. also for mine. I believe that if the academic teacher were to force his audience to get used to the fact that he was doing more than just an intellectual achievement, I would be so immodest as to even use the term "moral achievement", if perhaps a little too pathetically may sound like a matter of course for such a simple matter.

So far I have only spoken of practical Reasons to avoid imposing personal comments. But it doesn't stop there. The impossibility of "scientific" representation of practical statements - except in the case of discussing the means for one as fixed given presupposed purpose - follows for far deeper reasons. In principle, it is meaningless because the various value systems of the world are in an insoluble struggle with one another. Old Mill, whose philosophy I do not want to praise otherwise, but he is right on this point, once said: if you start from pure experience, you come to polytheism. That is phrased flatly and sounds paradoxical, and yet there is truth in it. If anything, we know it again today: that something can be holy not only: although it is not beautiful, but: because and so far it is not beautiful - in the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah and in the 22nd Psalm you can find the evidence for it; - and that something can be beautiful not only: although, but: in what it is not good at, that we have known again since Nietzsche, and before that you will find it shaped in the "Fleurs du mal", as Baudelaire called his volume of poetry; - and it is an everyday wisdom that something can be true, although and in that it is not beautiful and not holy and not good. But these are only the most elementary cases of this struggle between the gods of the individual orders and values. How to do it, to decide "scientifically" between the value of French and German culture, I don't know. Different gods argue with each other here, for all time. It is like in the old world that has not yet been disenchanted by its gods and demons, only in a different sense: as the Hellene once sacrificed Aphrodite and then to Apollo and above all to the gods of his city, so it is, disenchanted and undressed mythical, but inwardly true plastic of that behavior, still today. And fate rules over these gods and in their struggle, but certainly not "science." It can only be understood What the divine for one and for the other or: is in one and the other order. But that is the end of the matter for every discussion in a lecture hall and by a professor, just as little, of course, is the mighty one contained therein Lifeproblem itself is over with that. But powers other than the university chairs have the floor. Which person will presume to want to “scientifically refute” the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, such as the sentence: "Do not resist evil" or the image of one and the other cheek? And yet it is clear: viewed inwardly, it is an ethic of indignity that is preached here: one has to choose between the religious dignity that this ethic brings and the male dignity that preaches something completely different: "Resist evil, - Otherwise you are jointly responsible for his superiority. "Depending on the last statement, one is the devil and the other the god for the individual, and the individual has to decide which one for him the god and which is the devil. And so it goes through all the orders of life. The great [604] rationalism of the ethical-methodical way of life, which springs from every religious prophecy, had dethroned this polytheism in favor of the "one who is in need" - and then, in view of the realities of external and internal life, had to make those compromises and relativizations that we all know from the history of Christianity. Today, however, it is religious "everyday life". The many old gods, disenchanted and therefore in the form of impersonal powers, rise from their graves, strive for power over our lives and begin their eternal struggle among themselves again. But what is so difficult for modern people and hardest for the younger generation is: such a person everyday life to have grown. All the hunt for the "experience" stems from this weakness. Because it is weakness: not being able to look seriously at the fate of the time.

The fate of our culture, however, is that we are becoming more clearly aware of it again after the alleged or allegedly exclusive orientation towards the great pathos of Christian ethics had blinded our eyes for a millennium.

But enough of these very far-reaching questions. Because the error that some of our youth would make if they answered all of this: "Yes, but we come to the lecture to experience something other than just analyzes and factual statements" - the error is that they are looking for something else in the professor than what they face there - one leader and not: one Teacher. But only as Teacher we are put on the ladder. It is twofold, and it is easy to convince yourself that it is. Please allow me to take you to America again, because there you can often see such things in their most massive original form. The American boy learns inexpressibly much less than ours. Despite an unbelievable amount of exams, he is that sense after his school life he has not yet become the absolute examiner as the German is. Because the bureaucracy that requires the exam diploma as an entry ticket to the realm of official debts is only just beginning there. The young American has no respect for anything or anyone, for any tradition or office, except for the personal achievement of the person concerned: [605] that the American calls "democracy". However distorted reality may be in relation to this meaning, the meaning is this, and that is what matters here. The teacher standing across from him has the idea: he sells me his knowledge and methods for my father's money, just like my mother's vegetable woman the cabbage. So done. However, if the teacher is a football master, for example, then he is his guide in this area. If he is not that (or something similar in another area of ​​sport), then he is just a teacher and nothing more, and it will not occur to any young American man to let him sell him "world views" or authoritative rules for his way of life. Well, in this wording we will reject it. But the question arises whether there isn't a grain of truth in this mode of feeling, which I have intentionally increased to the extreme.

Fellow students! They come to our lectures with these demands on our leadership qualities and do not say to themselves beforehand: that out of a hundred professors at least ninety-nine not only do not claim to be football masters in life, but at all do not claim to be "leaders" in matters of lifestyle allowed to take. Remember: the value of a person does not depend on whether he has leadership qualities. And in any case they are not the Qualities that make one an excellent scholar and academic teacher, that make him a leader in the field of practical life orientation or, more specifically, politics. It is pure coincidence if someone also possesses this quality, and it is very worrying when everyone who stands on the chair feels that they are being asked to make use of it. Even more worrying when it is left to every academic teacher to act as a leader in the lecture hall. Because those who believe most in it are often the least, and above all: whether they are or not, the situation on the chair offers absolutely no possibility of that probation. The professor, who feels called to advisor to the youth and who enjoys their trust, may be his man in personal intercourse with them. And if he feels called to intervene in the struggles of world views and party opinions, then he should do so outside in the market of life: in the press, in meetings, in clubs, wherever he wants. But it is a bit too easy to show one's courage to confess where those present and perhaps those who think differently are condemned to silence.

Finally you will ask the question: if so, what does science actually achieve positively for practical and personal "life"? And that brings us back to the problem of their "job". First of all, of course: knowledge of technology, how to rule life, external things as well as human actions, by calculation: - well, that's just the American boy's vegetable woman, you will say. Entirely my opinion. Second, what this vegetable woman does not do after all: methods of thinking, the tools of the trade and the training to do so. You may say, well, these are not vegetables, but they are also nothing more than the means of getting vegetables. Well, let's leave that aside today. Fortunately, the work of science does not end there; we are in a position to help you achieve a third: clarity. Provided, of course, that we have them ourselves. To the extent that this is the case, we can make it clear to you: one can practically take up different positions on the value problem at hand - I ask you, for the sake of simplicity, to take social phenomena as an example - in practice. If if one takes this and that position, then, according to the experience of science, one must have this and that medium apply to make them practical. Perhaps these means are in themselves those that you think you have to refuse. Then you have to choose between the end and the inevitable means. Does the end "justify" these means or not? The teacher can put the necessity of this choice before you, as long as he wants to remain a teacher and not become a demagogue, he cannot do more. He can of course also tell you: if you want this and that end, then you have to accept the and the side successes which experience has shown to occur: the same situation again. However, these are all still problems that can arise for any technician, [607] who has to decide in numerous cases according to the principle of the lesser evil or the relatively best. Except that for him one thing, the main thing, is usually given: the purpose. But this is exactly what is now for us, as soon as it really is a question of "ultimate" problems, Not the case. And only then do we arrive at the ultimate achievement that science as such can achieve in the service of clarity, and at the same time to its limits: we can - and should - also tell you: this and the practical statement can be made with inner consistency and thus : Honesty yours sense after deriving from the and the last ideological basic position - it can be from just one, or it can perhaps be different - but not from this and the others. You serve, figuratively speaking, this God and offends that otherif you choose to take this position. Because you necessarily come to these and these last inner meaningful ones Consequencesif you stay true to yourself. That can be done, at least in principle. The specialist discipline of philosophy and the fundamentally philosophical discussions of the individual disciplines attempt to achieve this. If we understand our cause (which must be assumed here), we can compel the individual, or at least help him to make himself To give an account of the ultimate purpose of his own actions. It doesn't seem like that to me that very little, even for purely personal life. Here, too, I am tempted, if a teacher succeeds in saying: he is in the service of "moral" powers: the duty, clarity and sense of responsibility to create, and I believe that the more conscientious he is, the more he will be capable of this achievement it avoids in turn imposing or wanting to suggest an opinion on the listener.

Everywhere, of course, this assumption, which I am presenting to you, is based on one basic fact: that as long as life is based on itself and is understood from itself, it only knows the eternal struggle of those gods with one another - to put it simply: incompatibility and therefore the unsustainability of the last fight in general possible Viewpoints on life, the necessity: between them too decide. Whether under such circumstances science is worth becoming a "profession" for someone and whether it itself has an objectively valuable "profession" - that is again a value judgment about which nothing can be said in the lecture hall. Because for the teaching there is the affirmation requirement. Personally, I already answer the question in the affirmative through my own work. And also and especially for the point of view that hates intellectualism, as young people do it today or - and mostly - only imagines it to do, as the worst devil. Because then the word applies to them: "Remember, the devil, he is old, so get old to understand him." This is not meant in the sense of the birth certificate, but in the sense: that you are also in front of this devil if you are with wants to cope with him, not - be allowed to flee, as is so often done today, but that one must first survey one's ways to the end in order to see one's power and one's limits.

That science is one today professionally The "profession" practiced is in the service of self-reflection and the knowledge of factual relationships, and not a gift of grace from seers [and] prophets that gives salvation goods and revelations or a component of the reflection of wise men and philosophers about the sense of the world - this is of course an inescapable fact of our historical situation, from which we, if we remain true to ourselves, cannot escape. And when Tolstoy stands up in you again and asks: "Who is answering the question, since science does not do it: what should we do?" and: how should we arrange our lives? ", or in the language used here this evening:" which of the fighting gods should we serve? or maybe someone completely different, and who is that? ”- then we have to say: only a prophet or a savior. If he is not there, or if his preaching is no longer believed, then you will most certainly not force him to come down to earth by the fact that thousands of professors as state-paid or privileged little prophets try to relieve him of his role in their lecture halls. You will only manage one thing, that the knowledge of the crucial issue: the prophet, for which so many of our youngest generation are longing, is Not since, they never come to life in the full force of its significance. I believe that the inner interest of a truly religious "musical" person can now and never be served if this basic fact, that he has the fate of living in a godless, prophetless time, is given to him and others by means of a surrogate as all these catheter prophecies are, is veiled. It seems to me that the honesty of his religious body should revolt against it. Now you will be inclined to say: But how do you then deal with the fact of the existence of "theology" and its claim to be "science"? Let's not avoid the answer. "Theology" and "dogmas" do not exist universally, but not only in Christianity. But (going backwards in time) in a strongly developed form also in Islam, Manichaeism, Gnosis, Orphicism, Parsism, Buddhism, the Hindu sects, Taoism and the Upanishads and of course also in Judaism. Only, of course, has been systematically developed to a very different extent. And it is no coincidence that Western Christianity not only - in contrast to what e.g. Judaism possesses in theology - has developed it more systematically or strives for it, but that here its development had by far the greatest historical significance. The Hellenic spirit produced this, and all theology of the West goes back to it, as (apparently) all theology of the East goes back to Indian thought. All theology is intellectual rationalization religious salvation. No science is absolutely free of presuppositions, and none can establish its own worth for those who reject these presuppositions. But of course: every theology adds some specific requirements for its work and thus for the justification of its own existence. In different sense and scope. For each Theology, e.g. also for the Hindu, applies the prerequisite: the world must be one sense have, - and their question is: how must one interpret it so that this is possible to think? Just as Kant's epistemology was based on the premise: “There is scientific truth, and it does applies«- and then asked: Under which thinking conditions is this (meaningfully) possible? Or how the modern aesthetes (explicitly - like G. v. Lukács, for example - or actually) start from the presupposition: »it gives Works of art «- and now ask: How is this (sensibly) possible? [610] However, the theologies are generally not satisfied with that (essentially religious-philosophical) presupposition. Rather, they regularly start from the further assumption: that certain "revelations" are to be believed as facts that are important for salvation - that is, as those which make a meaningful conduct of life possible in the first place - and that certain competences and actions have the quality of holiness, that is: one religiously meaningful lifestyle or at least its components. And then your question is again: How can these absolutely to be assumed conditions be meaningfully interpreted within an overall picture of the world? Those prerequisites themselves lie for theology beyond what "science" is. They are not "knowledge" in the commonly understood sense, but rather "have". No theology can replace it for anyone who does not "have" it - faith or other holy powers. Especially not another science. On the contrary: in every "positive" theology the believer arrives at the point where the Augustinian sentence applies: credo non quod, sed quia absurdum est. The ability to perform this virtuoso performance of the "sacrifice of the intellect" is the decisive characteristic of the positively religious person. And that this is so: - this fact shows that despite (rather as a result of) theology (which indeed reveals it) the tension between the value sphere of "science" and that of religious salvation cannot be bridged.

The "sacrifice of the intellect" is legitimately made only by the disciple to the prophet, the believer of the Church. But never before has a new prophecy arose (I am repeating this picture, which has been offensive to some, here on purpose), that some modern intellectuals have the need to furnish their souls, so to speak, with guaranteed genuine, old things, and then themselves still remember that this also included religion, which they just don't have, but for which they dress up a kind of playfully furnished house chapel with images of saints from all over the world as a substitute or create a surrogate in all sorts of ways of experiencing them they ascribe the dignity of mystical holiness possession and with which they - peddle at the book market. It's simple: fraud or self-deception. Certainly not a hoax, but something very serious and [611] truthful, but perhaps at times misinterpreting itself in its own sense, on the other hand, it is when some of those youth communities that have grown in silence in recent years interpret their own human community relationship religious, cosmic or mystical relationship. As true as it is that every act of genuine brotherhood can be linked to the knowledge that something is added to a supra-personal realm that cannot be lost, it seems doubtful to me whether the dignity of purely human community relationships is increased by these religious interpretations. - In the meantime, that no longer belongs here. -

It is the fate of our time, with its own rationalization and intellectualization, above all: disenchantment of the world, that precisely the ultimate and most sublime values ​​have receded from the public, either into the worldly realm of mystical life or into the brotherhood of immediate relationships between individuals to each other. It is neither accidental that our highest art is an intimate and not a monumental one, nor that today only within the smallest community circles, from person to person, in pianissimo, that something pulsates that corresponds to what was earlier as prophetic pneuma in stormy fire the big churches went and welded them together. If we try to force and "invent" a monumental attitude towards art, the result is such a pathetic malformation as in the many monuments of the last 20 years. If one tries to brood religious new formations without new, genuine prophecy, something similar arises in the internal sense, which must have an even worse effect. And the catheter prophecy will only create fanatical sects, but never a real community. Anyone who cannot bear this fate of the times as a man must be told: he would rather return, in silence, without the usual public renegade advertising, but simply and simply, into the wide and pitifully open arms of the old churches. You don't make it difficult for him. Somehow - this is inevitable - he has to make the "sacrifice of the intellect", one way or another. We won't scold him for this, if he really can. For such a sacrifice of the intellect in favor of an unconditional religious devotion is morally at least something other than the evasion of the simple intellectual duty of righteousness that occurs when one does not have the courage to become clear about one's own final opinion, but this one Duty is relieved by weak relativization. And to me it is also higher than that chair prophecy, which is not clear about the fact that within the rooms of the lecture hall there is no other virtue than: simple intellectual righteousness. But it commands us to state that today for all those many who are waiting for new prophets and saviors, the situation is the same as it sounds from that beautiful Edomite guardian song recorded under the Isaiah oracles in the time of exile: “It is coming Call from Sē'îr in Edom: Watcher, how long is the night? The watchman said: Morning is coming, but it's still night. If you want to ask, come back another time. ”The people who were told this have asked and waited for well over two millennia, and we know their harrowing fate. From this we want to draw the lesson: that longing and waiting is not enough, and we do it differently: go to our work and meet the "demands of the day" - both personally and professionally. But that is plain and simple, if everyone finds the demon and obeys him, he his Life's strings hold. [613]


1 The following thoughts were originally presented orally in a student assembly that wanted to be informed about professional issues [note. Marianne Weber].