restricted access Chapter 9: Weber and the Politician as Tragic Hero
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c h a p t e r 9 Weber and the Politician as Tragic Hero Weber’s Phenomenology If by phenomenology we mean essentially that attitude or mode of thinking that puts the vision of essences before a formal definition of the valid criteria of knowledge, Max Weber is a great phenomenologist (even though his knowledge of Husserl’s philosophy may have been minimal), and any attempt to reduce his approach to a methodology of the sciences of culture is destined to be misunderstood. How imperative is in him the ‘‘return to the thing’’ is demonstrated by his two important lectures on the future of the scientist and politician.1 These lectures actually make up a single study, since Weber’s problem consists not in abstracting two ‘‘types’’ from the historical material at his disposal but in determining the form of their conflict. The very existence of this conflict is the source of Weber’s thought, whose necessity originates, in a Hegelian way, when the oppositions ‘‘gain independence;’’ when, in fact, ‘‘the highest division’’ is reached and the two (Ent-zweiung) confront each other in their own irreducible individuality.2 But here Hegel’s influence on Weber ends, namely, with the assertion of the necessity of conflict, of its being a ‘‘factor ’’ of life. No ‘‘higher fullness of life’’ is possible for Weber, no synthesis is reachable as actual development of division itself. Synthesis, then, can PAGE 206 206 ................. 17190$ $CH9 03-20-09 13:47:52 PS 207 Weber and the Politician as Tragic Hero only be thought as beyond division: a scientific and philosophical emptiness . Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind and its grandiose program—to show the Aufhebung concretely, the possibility to reposit the division in the Absolute , will have to be, therefore, ‘‘disenchanted’’ and abandoned. The conflict from which the necessity for philosophy arises cannot be resolved according to the terms in which it really manifests itself, but only by mystifying its characters, by ignoring the individualities of which it consists or by being consoled in the formalism of what ‘‘has to’’ be. If we can call tragic the awareness of the impossibility of resolving the conflict that is at the heart of life itself—an impossibility whose traits and sense only the most valiant research can define and make self-evident—then, Weber’s phenomenology reveals itself as definitely tragic. The ‘‘types’’ that Weber singles out do not reify in an abstract separateness, but, in fact, they con- flict with one another in the form of their insurmountable contradiction. They are not organized in well-ordered hierarchies but generate, precisely , the order of their own conflict. This order is the object of science, and not a description limited to juxtaposing elements empirically. But it is an order that excludes the possibility of a unifying law, capable of satisfying and reconciling opposites. From this point of view, every dualism would also represent a solution of the conflict: to subside in a dead separateness or indifference.3 Therefore , any interpretation of Weber’s work that is based on the notion of dualism, even when it is able to grasp sharply its distinct aspects, is completely wrong when considered as a whole. The relentless criticism that Weber moved to any ‘‘emanatist’’ logic (which derives historical facts from an idea of their connection and development, to the point of asserting their synthesis in a ‘‘universal history’’),4 his sharp refusal of ‘‘any intuitive representation, that penetrates empathically in the inside of the process,’’ not only are worth infinitely more that the actual ‘‘aversion of the positivist ’’ with respect to every idealism, but they also acquire the opposite meaning.5 Weber’s will to knowledge asserts itself ‘‘only through the unbiased analysis of meanings that are present from time to time and through the rigorous analysis of the processes that are thereby linked and put together ’’ (Lo storicismo, 335). And above all, Weber’s approach asserts itself as groundless will, or better, as expression of that supremacy of the will that is a philosophical problem and a problem of value, and that will never be smuggled as a given attitude because of its natural self-evidence. The will to knowledge in the exact terms of scientific reason cannot be reduced to a ‘‘cold inquiry into being’’ (as Troeltsch would like), for the simple and basic reason that, as Weber was entirely aware, its very own principles, PAGE...


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