Weber_Science as a Vocation_optional reading

Weber_Science as a Vocation_optional reading - Science as a...

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1 Science as a Vocation Max Weber You wish me to speak about 'Science as a Vocation.' Now, we political economists have a pedantic custom, which I should like to follow, of always beginning with the external conditions. In this case, we begin with the question: What are the conditions of science as a vocation in the material sense of the term? Today this question means, practically and essentially: What are the prospects of a graduate student who is resolved to dedicate himself professionally to science in university life? In order to understand the peculiarity of German conditions it is expedient to proceed by comparison and to realize the conditions abroad. In this respect, the United States stands in the sharpest contrast with Germany, so we shall focus upon that country. Everybody knows that in Germany the career of the young person who is dedicated to science normally begins with the position of private lecturer. After having conversed with and received the consent of the respective specialists, he takes up residence on the basis of a book and, usually, a rather formal examination before the faculty of the university. Then he gives a course of lectures without receiving any salary other than the lecture fees of his students. It is up to him to determine, within his interest, the topics upon which he lectures. In the United States the academic career usually begins in quite a different manner, namely, by employment as an 'assistant.' This is similar to the great institutes of the natural science and medical faculties in Germany, where usually only a fraction of the assistants try to habilitate themselves as private lecturers and often only later in their career.
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2 Practically, this contrast means that the career of the academic person in Germany is generally based upon plutocratic prerequisites. For it is extremely hazardous for a young scholar without funds to expose himself to the conditions of the academic career. He must be able to endure this condition for at least a number of years without knowing whether he will have the opportunity to move into a position which pays well enough for maintenance. In the United States, where the bureaucratic system exists, the young academic person is paid from the very beginning. To be sure, his salary is modest; usually it is hardly as much as the wages of a semi-skilled laborer. Yet he begins with a seemingly secure position, for he draws a fixed salary. As a rule, however, notice may be given to him just as with German assistants, and frequently he should be not come up to expectations. These expectations are such that the young academic in America must draw large crowd of students. This cannot happen to a German docent; once one has him, one cannot get rid of him. To be sure, he cannot raise any 'claims.' But he has the understandable notion that after years of work he has a sort of moral right to expect some consideration. He also expects--and this is often quite important--that one have some regard for him when the question of
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Weber_Science as a Vocation_optional reading - Science as a...

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