Shengren – Chapter 1.4.2.2 – Maximilian C. E. Weber

One of Germany’s boldest intellectual men was the orientalist and cultural theorist Maximilian Carl Emil Weber. He is also considered the most respected social scientist Europe has yet produced.[1] Weber’s ideas on the ‘true Christian ethic,’ the Lutheran Reformation, Protestantism (and why it is superior) simply are the militarization of European ethics. The Protestant Ethic and ‘The Spirit of Capitalism’ (1905) justifies, naturalizes, and shamelessly legitimizes Western supremacy. He writes so naturally about power, domination, competition and hierarchy among nations and ethnic groups, that only Germany could have produced a man like him. The German thinker fits right into cold, materialistic center of the German world, sitting comfortably between two other nihilists: Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. Weber had no experience of India and China, the minimum requirement that needed to be placed upon every German India and China expert should they ever to become great Germans.

But the German sociologist wanted to incorporate India and China into his universal theory about religions and the developments of economic systems; otherwise without that universal appeal how could his collection of essays ever be considered a philosophy? Thus followed his treatises on The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism (1958); and The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism (1958). Max Weber was ignorant of Sanskrit or Chinese, and had never experienced any of the four sage traditions shining through his two book titles: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Like the weatherman who was determined and felt appointed to enlighten the world about professional soccer, basketball, tennis and ping-pong, he had to do two things: a) reading a lot of books and b) engaging into a way of thinking that totally disconnects from real life and ignores all life experience. In a philosophical mode Weber favorably compared Protestant ethics to Confucian ethics; he flattered the Chinese he knew from books, but that was not new: European missionaries since the 17th century were convinced that the Chinese were prehistoric Christians awaiting the coming of the Messiah.[2] Max Weber, despite his best efforts, failed as philosopher, and his life work disqualified as philosophy. On a side note, he has also never been called a Weiser or sage in Germany. Although Weber encountered the sages in his readings about China countless times, he still misunderstood what sageness was all about: ‘High mandarins were considered magically qualified. They could always become objects of a cult, after their death as well as during their lifetime, provided that their charisma was ‘proved’. Magically qualified? Well, a bit like Weber himself then.

[1] Gerth, 1991

[2] Taylor, 1691, p. 45

Pattberg, Thorsten (2011), Shengren – Above Philosophy and Beyond Religion, LoD Press, New York