Science as a vocation and profession - Sociology of professions

Science as a vocation and profession

In the winter of 1918, a report by Max Weber on the topic "Science as a vocation and profession" was held at the University of Munich, Germany. He spoke to the student community as future scientists and teachers in order to reveal to them the essence of their future vocation. Very many scientists of the time represented the results of their many years of work precisely in this form - an oral presentation to a broad scientific audience. In many ways this was due to the fact that live the presentation guaranteed the rapid delivery of their ideas and response to them, and the publication of reports in scientific journals or as monographs greatly reduced access to them.

The speech of M. Weber about the call of the scientist and the social role of science was the result of his more than thirty years of activity in the field of political economy, sociology, philosophy and history. The focus of the report was the problem of the transformation of spiritual life into spiritual production and related issues of the division of labor in the sphere of spiritual activity, changes in the role of the intelligentsia in society, and finally, the fate of European society and European civilization in general.

One of the reasons for M. Weber's speech on this topic was the change in the role of science and the associated change in the social status of the scientist. As the well-known historian of science J. Bernal wrote, the concept of "scientist" appears in the lexicon only in 1840, which indicates both the institutionalization of science as a social institution, and the beginning of the processes of specialization in it under the influence of the division of labor. Thus, Weber touched on the actual theme of the 20th century. - changing the role of science and the associated change in the social status of the scientist.

Enthusiasm for science is possible only within the framework of a separate scientific specialization, but without it one can not speak of a vocation for science. It is impossible, in M. Weber's opinion, to create something new in the related field of knowledge, except to offer useful (for the development of science) statements of questions. The hobby, inspiration in scientific activity come only when there is an idea or a guess. Determination of the emergence of an idea or insight is not labor-related: it can not replace or bring to life a valuable idea, but an inspired desire for it, together with hard, painstaking, daily activities, can work miracles in this sense.

No one is guaranteed from failures in life, as in scientific professional activity - there is always a great risk that inspiration will not come in the near future, or ever. Anyone who has embarked on this path, willy-nilly or involuntarily, asks: "Do I have this Gift - to feel the inspiration and enthusiasm? Maybe it's not my destiny? The search for criteria of a gifted personality leads the younger generation in science, according to Weber, to create a false idea of ​​the importance of experiencing or feeling as such a criterion of personality. What, in the opinion of the scientist, is the truth? A person in science can become only through devotional service to his work, his profession. Her (personality) is alien to petty proprietary selfish interests aimed at satisfying her ambition. Such specialists would find it difficult to work in science, as it would be necessary to constantly pursue an elusive mirage: it seems that just now I will discover something new, and this is forever, and everyone will know me ... But this is impossible: "Everyone of us knows that what he has done in the field of science will become obsolete in 10, 20, 40 years. Such is fate, moreover, this is the meaning of scientific work to which it is subordinated and to which it serves ... every perfect performance of a design in science means new "questions", it basically wants to be outdone. Everyone who wants to serve science must accept this. "

Scientific progress, according to Weber, is the most important part of the intellectualization process that has been going on for millennia. But what does this intellectual rationalization, carried out with the help of science and scientific technology, mean? Does it mean that today every scientist knows the living conditions of his existence better than the representatives of other professions in earlier times?

According to Weber, increasing intellectualization and rationalization mean the fact that people are confident in the ability at any time to learn all this; all mysterious and incalculable can be found rational explanation and master the way of technical means and calculation. For Weber, this shows that the world is "spoiled" and the person no longer needs to resort to magical means to win over to his side or subdue the spirits, as did the savage for whom such mysterious forces existed. But does the process of disenchantment and progress, in which science takes part, also make sense? Answering this question, Weber opposes the old and modern understanding of science.

He recalls the famous cave myth told by Plato in the "State". One of the prisoners, imprisoned in a dark cave, is at liberty and sees the sun. Blinded, he gropes his way back and talks about what he saw in the wild. He is declared a madman. But gradually he gets used to the light and seeks to convey what he has seen to other prisoners, to free them and to open the way to true being. Weber calls this man a philosopher, comparing the sun to the truth of science, "which alone does not chase after ghosts and shadows, but strives for true being".

The centuries that have passed since antiquity have significantly changed the activities of the scientist, the ways of scientific knowledge. What exactly does science provide for practical and personal life? This again raises the question of vocation in science. Weber displays three reasons:

1) science develops the technique of mastering life, i.e. external things and people's actions by calculation;

2) science develops methods of thinking, working tools and develops skills for handling them;

3) But according to Weber, scientists are also able to promote and gain clarity, provided that they have themselves.

What did science mean for people of the 20th century? Modern science , Weber believes, is a profession, carried out as a special discipline and serving to the cause of self-awareness and knowledge of actual connections.

The duty of the academic teacher is to exclude his subjective predilections and to be intellectually honest. A true mentor will be careful not to impose a particular position on the listener from the pulpit, because, of course, the most dishonest way is when the "tell facts" are quoted. A prophet or demagogue, unlike a scholar-researcher, does not have a place in the department in the classroom; "The Prophet and demagogue is told:" Go out into the street and speak openly. " It means: go where criticism is possible. In the classroom, the teacher sits opposite to his listeners: they must remain silent, and he must speak. And I consider it irresponsible to use the fact that students for the sake of their future must attend lectures of the teacher and that there is no one who could oppose him with criticism; to use their knowledge and scientific experience not in order to benefit the listeners - what is the task of the teacher - but to inculcate their personal political views. "

Thus, the analysis of scientific activity as a profession is conducted by M. Weber in his theory of social action by correlating the personal, internal image of the scientist (the meaning he puts into his work) and the image of the scientist in the eyes of society (society's reaction to his work) , the main and attributed status of a scientific worker.

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)