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Weber exposes some hard truths about scientific academic existence and the reflections this has on our lives. He talks about universities showing preference for lecturers who can draw the crowds, the unfortunate trend of mediocricies in the academic aristocracy and the luck needed to be promoted. He talks about the increasing specialisaiton of science and how discoveries made now are destined to become obsolete. He uses Plato s analogy of the men chained facing a wall with a light – the sun of the truth of science – behind them. It is the pholosopher that breaks free and shows others that light and to strive for true being . However, if the truth of science is constantly being overlain by new truthsas the old become out-of-date (or out of fashion), what are we to believe as the final truth?
He says that it is thought necessary to put on blinkers to specialise and how this a detriment to science as a whole. He instead encourages scientists to have passion in their work whatever it is for nothing is worth anything to a man, as a man if he cannot do it with passion .
He talks with disgust about those who believe that science is all intellect and no soul and shows the parrallel between art and maths and how inspiration favours both in the same way – through long hours of work and sometimes not even then.
He makes a correlation between the progresss of civilisaiton and scientific discoveries and the continuous stream of discoveries (due to the obsoletion of previous ideas) being essential to development. However, he does see that this very advancement leads to the death of magic and the intellectualization of our perception of the world. Weber goes on to say that this lack of mystery makes us less likely to be satisfied or gain pleasure in our lives. We can see this theme also in Civilisation and its discontents where Freud asks with all these things (technology, etc), why are we still unhappy .
When Weber begins to discuss politics as a science is where I find a pertinent point. Lecturers must keep personal politics out of the science of politics, offering each alternative model on its own merits and detriments. He points out that in lecture situations it is too easy for the teacher to impose their views on the class because there is no discussion, no quesioning allowed. Personal politics should be practiced in the party room.
Weber only breifly describs how studying politics as a science can be useful, that is by using an empirical method of deducing the best models from all the options. However, I think the most useful aspect of studying political science is learning the art of reading and the skill of obtaining the autors thoughts and motivations within what is written piece. The science of politics is also the art of questions and arguments but not just for the purposes of persuasion and manipulation – for the benefit of society as a whole. Weber asserts that the goal of the scientist is to work in the hope that others will get further than we do so surely, by studying philosophy and politics, being that person who turns those chained around to see the light, we are aiding the progress of society with the science of politics.
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