Max Weber was one of the most influential and creative intellectual forces of the twentieth century. In his methodology of the social sciences, he both exposed the flaws and solidified the foundations of the German historical tradition. Throughout his life, he saw bureaucracy as a serious obstacle to cultural vitality but as an inescapable part of organizational rationality. And in his most famous essay, on the Protestant ethic, he uncovered the psychological underpinnings of capitalism and modern occupational life. This searching work offers the first comprehensive introduction to Weber's thought for students and newcomers. Fritz Ringer locates Weber in his historical context, relating his ideas to the controversies and politics of his day. Ringer also considers the importance of Weber to contemporary life, discussing his insights into the limits of scholarly research and the future of Western capitalist societies. Weber, Ringer reminds us, believed in democracy, liberalism, and fundamental human rights; his ethic of responsibility remains as vital to our historical moment as it was to his own.
A concise and incisive look at the man and personality behind the thought, Max Weber is a masterful outing in intellectual biography and social theory.