Max Weber – Founder of Modern Sociology
Maximilian Karl Emil “Max” Weber was a German sociologist and philosopher, was one of the founders of modern sociology. His most famous work is “Protestant Ethics”.
He was born on April 21, 1864 in Erfurt, Germany. His father was a politically active lawyer with a preference for life’s enjoyment, while his mother kept a quiet and withdrawn life. Disagreements between father and mother had great influence on Max’s psychological development. Despite disputes, their house was always full of people, above all intellectuals, which caused Max’s intellectual progress. As he grew up, the school was increasingly bothering him, and he was despised by teachers. However, this only made him even closer to the classical literature he adored and learned in his free time.
After finishing high school, he studied law, history, philosophy and economics for three semesters, and then spent one year serving the army. He continued his studies at the University of Berlin, and after five years he defended his doctoral dissertation.
He married his distant cousin Marianne Schnittger in 1893.
For two years he worked as a professor of economics at the University of Freiburg, and in 1896 he continued his professorial career in Heidelberg. Due to the unresolved conflict with his father, in 1897 he suffered a nervous breakdown after his father’s death. Depression, anxiety and insomnia that tortured him, prevented him from continuing to teach, so he spent the next five years in sanatorium, treating himself.
When he was finally able to continue his work, he became the editor of a prominent magazine of social sciences. He held an excellent lecture at the Congress of Arts and Sciences in Missouri in 1904, and was most celebrated when he wrote essays “The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism” next year. In this part, he presented his idea that the emergence of modern capitalism should be attributed to Protestantism, and above all to Calvinism (theological system that emphasizes the rule of God over all things).
After participating in the First World War as a medical officer , Weber wrote three more books on religion in the sociological framework – Religion of China (1916), Religion of India (1916) and Ancient Judaism (1917-1918). In these works, he compared those religions and cultures with the Western world, emphasizing the importance of economic and religious factors on historical outcomes. He continued his professorial work in 1918.
He intended to write works on Christianity and Islam, but the Spanish fever broke his plans, and he died on June 14, 1920, in Munich, succumbing to illness. His manuscript Economics and Society remained incomplete until 1922 when it was rewritten and published by his wife.
The influence of Max Weber is enormous and insignificant in the fields of sociology, politics, religion and economics.