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University of Toronto Scarborough
Gerald Cupchik

SOCB43 – Lecture #5 – 2014-Feb-06  Weber  science as a vocation, a calling, a duty, something that is meant to be done, and is the best thing to be done; if you want to know the world, who in the world we can trust, a scientist has that kind of authority to tell us the truth; there was a notion that if you really want to continue study, what are you in for and what you should commit to should have meaning, that notion was very important and was a movement among the students, because they want their intellectual to have meaning, a romantic feeling about their study life; Weber rejects the idea of romantic pursuit of the whole of human life, because he thinks that in the end science has an incompatible quality, qualities include: o Specialization  if you want to achieve perfection, you cannot do so without specialization, knowing whatever you should know about your profession; real science is with blinders on, because you can’t know everything, you have to take all your passion to something incredibly narrow and specialized o Fuse enthusiasm and discipline  you can’t always control when your ideas come to you, the hard you work the harder you think about it, the better chance that those will come to you, just sitting around waiting for inspiration will not happen o Progress  the other difference between science and art is that it has to be progressive, the ideas the theories the researches are all made to be surpassed, they should not stand for a very long time, if the same theory in science for a very long time then that means it’s a failure, while art can be revisited; so why create something that only lasts for such a short time? o The demagification of the world (disenchantment): it doesn’t mean that people now know more than people back then, the key idea is that taking the magic away from the world, magic in this context means something that happens for no reason, something that cannot be explained, taking away magic is the idea that there can be no magic, there are a lot of unknown, but the idea of science in principle is that everything can be known eventually, the power of the mind can reveal everything (this can be called the principle of sufficient reason)  Something positive about science are: o Methods of thinking /useful knowledge o Gain clarity  know the consequences of action, science gives people the clarity of options  Consequences of demagification: o Removes meaning from life  it makes very difficult for people to believe that your death will complete some cycle in life; think about two types of society, one society thinks the world has cycles, people born, then die, people get married, people grow, in this type of life, when you get old, you can rest in peace that you have seen everything you can see, there are no new types because everything is circling around; what science does is that is takes that away, it’s impossible for us to die satisfied thinking the massive changes, you have to die thinking that there will be so many different or better things that you won’t have access to, you won’t even know what it is, you will die knowing that there are so many things not experienced o Removes meaning from science  in the past science would have some deep meaning for people who discovers it, science is sacred to people who discovers new things that help many things, but Weber said that science is in a way anti-nature, science can’t determine if the only result is good or bad, science cannot give meaning to that, science cannot determine the value of any of the things it create, it cannot tell if a piece of art is beautiful, it can’t determine if a bomb developed in the science lad should be used somewhere or not; this idea of removing meaning from science leads to: o Nihilism  based on the Latin word “nihil” which means nothing  there’s nothing to care about anymore, nothing matters; what Weber is talking about is that we lack something that we believe in that something is good or bad, there’s nothing that we trust can help us determine whether something is good or bad; in the end we know that science should know the answer about what is good or bad, yet we know that science cannot tell us that answer, the conflict between this rationality and irrational logic  Life of Durkheim: a son of a Rabi, he was once under catholic school, at some point (age 13) he had a moment of clarity and abandoned all his religious study  Durkheim: social fact  there are same sociology facts, although not physical, but it is just as factual as knocking on the table and it reflects the sound; what is a social fact? o Not everything that happens in society o External/objective (that is the importance of a fact): if there is a social fact we know that it has be to outside of us; Durkheim lists: duties (because they are not from us, you find them before you were born, they are the things you have to do, and you do not know it most of the times, they are not up to you) o Compelling/coercive: facts have to be pushed back to you,
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