Max Weber (1864-1920) is generally recognised as one of the founding fathers of modern sociology. His ideas continue to be discussed by sociologists and historians and much homage is paid to his contribution to knowledge. However, such is the awe which the breadth of his knowledge inspires that most general books about Weber contain summaries rather than criticism. This book is the first attempt to evaluate Weber's entire work in the light of historical knowledge available today and of contemporary analytic philosophy. Professor Andreski shows where Weber's true greatness lies, which of Weber's ideas are still valid, which need either correction or modification and which merit rejection.
Andreski places Weber in his social and cultural context of the intellectual preeminence of German culture in the second half of the nineteenth century. He examines Weber's most famous theses on objectivity, methodological individualism, ethical neutrality; explanation versus understanding; ideal types; rationalisation; bureaucracy, charisma, power, law and religion; as well as the explanation of the rise of capitalism and uniqueness of Western civilization.
Andreski concludes by considering what contemporary scholars should learn from Weber if they want to advance further. He argues that the most important lesson is that comparative study of history (including recent history) is the only method of giving empirical support to an examination of large-scale social processes or a general proposition about them.
This book was first published in 1984.