Max Weber, Charles Peirce, and the Integration of the Natur and Geisteswissenschaften

Koshul, Basit Bilal, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Ochs, Peter, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Ferreira, Jamie, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Mathews, Chuck
Wellmon, Chad, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia

Questions regarding the relationship between the the Naturwissenschaften (physical-natural sciences) and the Geisteswissenschaften (socio-cultural sciences) were at the center of a major debate in Max Weber's intellectual milieu. Weber made notable contributions to this debate in a number of different writings. But his position on this issue is difficult to identify for two reasons. Firstly, he spends most of his energy detailing the shortcomings in the opposing positions. Secondly, and more importantly, he lacks the philosophical resources to state his position clearly. At a very basic level Weber posits simultaneous unity and uniqueness between the two branches of sciences. The bulk of the present inquiry will use the logic, semiotics and hermeneutics of Charles Peirce's pragmaticism to bring clarity to Weber's Wissenschaftslehre on the issue of the relationship between the natural-physical and socio-cultural sciences. Stated a bit differently, reconstructing Weber's Wissenschaftslehre with the aid of Peirce's philosophy opens up the possibility of a mutually enriching relationship between the physical-natural and socio-cultural sciences. The second part of the inquiry will show explore the implications of the reconstructed Wissenschaftslehre for Weber's Soziologie. Weber's sociology of culture describes the disenchantment of the world as the "fate of our times" and identifies it as the most pressing problematic of modern culture. The reconstructed relational conception of science derived from Weber's Wissenschaftslehre makes a uniquely valuable contribution to addressing this problematic. Disenchantment is the result of the progressive fragmentation and eventual autonomization of different spheres of culturemost notably the intellectual sphere and the religious sphere. In the modern culture this iv fragmentation has manifested itself in the clash between scientific rationality and religious rationality. Following through on the pointers contained in Peirce's pragmaticism, we will see that the very same philosophical resources that bring clarity to Weber's Wissenschaftslehre also lead to a relational conception of scientific rationality and religious rationality. In opening up the possibility of a relational understanding of religion and science, the Weber-Peirce synthesis offers novel possibilities for challenging disenchantment as the "fate of our times."

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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