Ciències Socials

Max Weber, una veu imprescindible en la nostra manera de concebre la sociologia

HOMENATGE A MAX WEBER
– Per Natàlia Cantó, professora del Grau de Ciències socials

El catorze de juny de 1920 moria a München Max Weber, jurista, economista, historiador i pare fundador de la sociologia. Relativament poc conegut durant la seva vida per les seves constants malalties i absències a la universitat, esdevingué al llarg del segle XX un sociòleg cabdal, un gran clàssic i un pare fundador de la nostra disciplina, equiparat només amb Émile Durkheim i Karl Marx.

L’obra de Weber és prolífica, erudita, plena de finíssimes observacions i d’una militància sense concessions contra aquells qui cercaven en la ciència en general i en la sociologia en particular respostes a preguntes existencials sobre com s’ha de viure i què és bo i dolent.

max weber sociologia ciencias sociales

Max Weber fou un gran pensador de la modernitat. Per ell, la característica principal de la modernitat, que ell veié desenvolupar-se vertiginosament al llarg de la seva vida, és un creixent procés de racionalització que abraça cada vegada més esferes de la nostra vida i cada vegada d’una manera més implacable. Coherent amb la seva posició, Weber intentà no avaluar ni valorar aquest procés, només comprendre’l i analitzar-lo a través de l’aparell conceptual i metodològic que anà desenvolupant al llarg de la seva vida.

Com a modest homenatge a aquest pare fundador de la sociologia, a aquest gegant sobre les espatlles del qual hem après a mirar el món que ens envolta, voldríem avui reunir un seguit de cites de la seva obra que han estat claus per a nosaltres com a sociòlegs, en la nostra formació i més endavant, i que han convertit a Max Weber en una veu imprescindible en la nostra manera de concebre i practicar la sociologia.

Començarem amb la cita que se centra més en la seva comprensió de l’acció social – objecte d’estudi central de la sociologia per aquest autor:

1. La acción social (incluyendo tolerancia u omisión) se orienta por las acciones de otros, las cuales pueden ser pasadas, presentes o esperadas como futuras (venganza por previos ataques, réplica a ataques presentes, medidas de defensa frente a ataques futuros). Los “otros” pueden ser individualizados y conocidos o una pluralidad de individuos indeterminados y completamente desconocidos (el “dinero”, por ejemplo, significa un buen – de cambio – que el agente admite en el tráfico porque su acción está orientada por la expectativa de que otros muchos, ahora indeterminados y desconocidos, estarán dispuestos a aceptarlo también, por su parte, en un cambio futuro).

  1. No toda clase de acción – incluso de acción externa – es “social” en el sentido aquí admitido. Por lo pronto no lo es la acción exterior cuando sólo se orienta por la expectativa de determinadas reacciones de objetos materiales. La conducta íntima es acción social sólo cuando está orientada por las acciones de otros. No lo es, por ejemplo, la conducta religiosa cuando no es más que contemplación, oración solitaria, etc. La actividad económica (de un individuo) únicamente lo es en la medida en que tiene en cuenta la actividad de terceros. (…)
  2. No toda clase de contacto entre los hombres tiene carácter social; sino sólo una acción con sentido propio dirigida a la acción de otros. Un choque de dos ciclistas, por ejemplo, es un simple suceso de igual carácter que un fenómeno natural. En cambio, aparecería ya una acción social en el intento de evitar el encuentro o bien en la riña o consideraciones amistosas subsiguientes al encontronazo.
  3. La acción social no es idéntica a) ni a una acción homogénea de muchos, b) ni a la acción de alguien influido por conductas de otros. (…) El límite, empero, es tan fluido que apenas es posible una distinción. El simple hecho, sin embargo, de que alguien acepte para sí una actitud determinada, aprendida en otros y que parece conveniente para sus fines, no es una acción social en nuestro sentido. Pues en este caso no orientó su acción por la acción de otros, sino que por la observación se dio cuenta de ciertas probabilidades objetivas, dirigiendo por ellas su conducta. (… ) El fundamento de la fluidez de estos casos, como el de otros varios, estriba en que la orientación por la conducta ajena y el sentido de la propia acción en modo alguno se puede precisar siempre con toda claridad, ni es siempre consciente, ni mucho menos consciente con toda plenitud. Por esta razón no siempre pueden separase con toda seguridad en mero “influjo” y la “orientación con sentido”. (…) La sociología en modo alguno tiene que ver solamente con la acción social; sin embargo, ésta constituye (para la clase de sociología aquí desarrollada) el dato central, aquel que para ella, por decirlo así, es constitutivo. (…)’ (Weber 2001:18-20; èmfasi a l’original)

 

L’obra més coneguda de Max Weber és sense dubtes L’ètica protestant i l’esperit del capitalisme – també la seva única obra traduïda al català. En aquesta obra, Weber intentà analitzar com el capitalisme esdevingué possible, com un sistema de producció i d’acumulació caracteritzat per una racionalització dels seus processos en tot moment, un control sobre els desitjos hedonistes i la venta “lliure” de treball als posseïdors de mitjans de producció. Weber trobà en l’ascetisme protestant, especialment en el calvinisme, una font de sentit rere totes les accions que, encadenades, desembocaren com a conseqüències no buscades en el capitalisme modern. Vegem algunes de les darreres línies del seu famós treball L’ètica protestant:

‘Volíem demostrar que un dels elements constitutius de l’esperit del capitalisme modern (i no només del capitalisme, sinó de tot el que és la civilització moderna), a saber, la racionalització de la conducta a partir de la idea de “Beruf”, havia estat engendrat per l’esperit de l’ascetisme cristià. Si rellegim ara el text de Franklin que al començament citàvem, comprovarem que els elements essencials de l’actitud que allí designàvem com a “esperit del capitalisme” són justament els que, segons acabem de veure, integren el contingut de l’ascetisme professional (Berufsaskese) purità, si bé despullats de la fonamentació religiosa que amb Franklin ja havia deixat d’existir.

D’altra banda, no som pas els primers a afirmar que la idea del treball professional (Berufsarbeit) modern és d’encuny ascètic. La necessitat de cenyir-se a un treball especialitzat, amb la consegüent renúncia a la universalitat fàustica de l’humà que això implica, és en el món actual condició sine qua non de tota acció social; és a dir, que avui per avui “acció” i “renúncia” es condicionen inevitablement de manera recíproca. Doncs bé: aquest caràcter fonamentalment ascètic de l’estil de vida burgès – si és que hom pot parlar encara d’estil, i si no és més aviat la manca de tot estil – és precisament el que ja Goethe va voler mostrar-nos, des del súmmum de la seva saviesa, tant en els Wanderjahre (Els anys de viatge de Wilhelm Meister) com en la conclusió del seu Faust. Aital constatació tenia per a ell el sentit d’un comiat, d’un adéu dolgut a un temps d’humanitat plena i bella que ja no tornarà a repetir-se en la nostra civilització, de la mateixa manera que a l’antiguitat no es repetí el temps de l’apogeu atenec. El purità voliaésser un professional; nosaltres no tenim altre remei que ser-ho. En efecte, a partir del moment que l’ascetisme “penjà la sotana”, que sortí dels monestirs per introduir-se en la vida professional i començà a dominar i a presidir la moralitat secular (intramundana), tot d’una participà en la construcció de la grandiosa configuració de l’ordre econòmic modern, un ordre lligat a les condicions tècniques i econòmiques de la producció mecànica i maquinista que amb força irresistible determina avui l’estil de vida de tots els individus nascuts dins aquest sistema (i no només el d’aquells més directament afectats per l’activitat econòmica professional), i que potser el continuarà determinant fins al dia que s’hagi acabat de cremar la darrera tona de combustible. En opinió de Baxter, la preocupació pels béns materials no havia de pesar damunt les espatlles dels seus “sants” més que com “un abric lleuger del qual un hom es pot desprendre en qualsevol moment.” Però de l’abric el destí n’ha fet una gàbia d’acer. A partir del moment que l’ascetisme emprengué la tasca de transformar el món i d’exercir-hi tot el seu influx, els béns materials d’aquest món adquiriren sobre els homes un poder creixent i ineluctable, més que en qualsevol altre període de la història. Avui per avui, l’esperit de l’ascetisme religiós s’ha escapat de la gàbia, qui sap si definitivament… (… ) A hores d’ara ningú no sap encara qui habitarà la gàbia en el futur, ni si al terme d’aquest extraordinari procés evolutiu sorgiran profetes radicalment nous o es produirà una gran renaixença d’ideals i de pensament tradicionals; o si, al contrari, el que es produirà serà una petrificació mecanitzada guarnida amb una espècie d’autobombo crispat. Aleshores, als darrers representants d’aquesta civilització tal vegada podria aplicar-se’ls aquella frase: “Especialistes sense esperit, sibarites sense cor; són un zero a l’esquerra i s’imaginen haver arribat a un cim que la humanitat encara no havia assolit mai.”’ (Weber :262-265)

Com veiem Weber emet un diagnòstic dur i alhora finíssim de la modernitat, del seu sistema econòmic, de tots els que ens hem trobat en aquests segles i cerquem un lloc, uns vincles, un sentit. Un sentit, a poder ser, més enllà de la racionalitat instrumental que regeix tantes esferes de la nostra vida… i que Weber, després de comprovar com l’esperit havia abandonat la gàbia just quan ens atrapava, com destaca la cita, cercà al final de la seva vida en les relacions eròtiques, amoroses, irracionals… Tanquem doncs aquest breu homenatge amb un fragment d’un text que és ben bé com un bolet rar enmig de l’obra de Weber i que dedicà a l’erotisme:

‘The last accentuation of the erotical sphere occurred in terms of intellectualist cultures. It occurred where this sphere collided with the unavoidably ascetic trait of the vocational specialist type of man. Under this tension between the erotic sphere and rational everyday life, specifically extramarital sexual life, which had been removed from everyday affairs, could appear as the only tie which still linked man with the natural fountain of all life. For man had now been completely emancipated from the cycle of the old, simple, and organic existence of the peasant.

A tremendous value emphasis on the specific sensation of an innerworldly salvation from rationalization thus resulted. A joyous triumph over rationality corresponded in its radicalism with the unavoidable and equal radical rejection by an ethics of any kind of other- or suprawordly salvation. For such ethics, the triumph of the spirit over the body should find its climax precisely here, and sexual life could even gain the character of the only and the ineradicable connection with animality. But this tension between an inner-worldly and an other-worldly salvation from rationality must be sharpest and most unavoidable precisely where the sexual sphere is systematically prepared for a highly valued erotic sensation. This sensation reinterprets and glorifies all the pure animality of the relation, whereas the religion of salvation assumes the character of a religion of love, brotherhood, and neighborly love.

Under these conditions, the erotic relation seems to offer the unsurpassable peak of the fulfilment of the request for love in the direct fusion of the souls of one to the other. This boundless giving of oneself is as radical as possible in its opposition to all functionality, rationality, and generality. It is displayed here as the unique meaning which one creature in his irrationality has for another, and only for this specific other. However, from the point of view of eroticism, this meaning, and with it the value-content of the relation itself, rests upon the possibility of a communion which is felt as a complete unification, as a fading of the ‘thou.’ It is so overpowering that it is interpreted ‘symbolically’: as a sacrament. The lover realizes himself to be rooted in the kernel of the truly living, which is eternally inaccessible to any rational endeavor. He knows himself to be freed from the cold skeleton hands of rational orders, just as completely as from the banality of everyday routine. This consciousness of the lover rests upon the ineffaceability and inexhaustibleness of his own experience. The experience is by no means communicable and in this respect it is equivalent to the ‘having’ of the mystic. This is not only due to the intensity of the lover’s experience, but to the immediacy of the possessed reality. Knowing ‘life itself’ joined to him, the lover stands opposite what is for him the objectless experiences of the mystic, as if he were facing the fading light of an unreal sphere.’ (Weber 1946: 345-347)

Bibliografia citada:

Weber, Max (1946). From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (traduït, editat i amb una   introducció de H.H. Gerth I C.Wright Mills). Oxford University Press. New York.
Weber, Max (1994). L’ètica protestant i l’esperit del capitalisme. Edicions 62. Barcelona.
Weber, Max (2001). Economía y sociedad. Fondo de Cultura Económica. México DF.

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