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CIVILIZATION, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND RATIONALITY: In Honor of Benjamin N. Nelson / Vol. 49, No. 3 (1982)

Arien Mack, Editor

Briefly recounts the career of social historian Benjamin N. Nelson during 1933–77.

Focuses on social historian Ben Nelson's interest in Freudian psychology during the 1950s–70s.

Max Weber’s philosophical reflections on the sociocultural sciences appear in three different kinds of writings. Most obviously, there are the methodological essays principally devoted to logical, epistemological, metaphysical, and axiological issues. Second, there are fugitive but explicit philosophical observations scattered throughout his work. Finally, there are the implicit philosophical positions to which Weber commits himself in his sociological, historical, and political writings.

Sixty years of Weber scholarship has demonstrated, if nothing else, that Weber’s work is a miniature of the world he envisioned: an infinitely rich and inexhaustible cosmos that remains open to numerous questions and interpretations on the most fundamental level. In order to make sense of it, scholars have attempted to detect either a hidden philosophical framework or a thematic orientation in Weber’s writings.

What is for Weber the “modern world”? It is a world ruled and defined by “rational calculation.” The essay is a review and critique of Max Weber's philosophical approach to the world including his modern world concepts and analyses of bureaucracies.

The idea for this paper emerged as a result of years of discussion—very often characterized more by disagreements than by agreements—with Benjamin Nelson. For Nelson was among the very few American sociologists who refused to reduce culture to the level of social psychology. Although the author is in agreement with Nelson, he feels that a one-sided emphasis on form tends to encourage a neglect to account for the process of production and the reproduction of these forms, leading to an entirely reified view of culture.

The article examines the development and influence of theories of the origins of civilization proposed by anthropologists Frank Hamilton Cushing and Robert Stewart Culin between 1882 and 1924.

The article studies the conflict between religion and sexuality in the nineteenth century, focusing on the attempted resolution of the conflict by the Oneida Community, a utopian community in Oneida, New York, during 1847–81.

The moral dimensions of labor have their roots in the deepest traditions of Western Christianity. According to Max Weber, Christianity like other ethical religions was originally anti-economic. The article discusses the moral and ethical values of labor as an economic activity since the seventeenth century and examines the impact of these values on the modern perception of work.

The article discusses the rise of neoconservatism since 1964 to the new middle class's abandonment of the liberal values that were central to its own development.


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