This major study of the father of modern sociology explores the
intimate relationship between the events of Max Weber's personal
history and the development of his thought. When it was first
published in 1970, Paul Roazen described "The Iron Cage "as "an
example of the history of ideas at its very best"; while Robert A.
Nisbet said that "we learn more about Weber's life in this volume
than from any other in the English language."
Weber's life and work developed in reaction to the rigidities of
familial and social structures in Imperial Germany. In his youth he
was torn by irreconcilable tensions between the Bismarckian
authoritarianism of his father and the ethical puritanism of his
mother. These tensions led to a psychic crisis when, in his
thirties, he expelled his father (who died soon thereafter) from
his house. His reaction to the collapse of the European social
order before and during World War I was no less personal and
profound. It is the triumph of Professor Mitzman's approach that he
convincingly demonstrates how the internalizing of these severe
experiences led to Weber's pessimistic vision of the future as an
"iron cage" and to such seminal ideas as the notion of charisma and
the concept of the Protestant ethic and its connection with the
spirit of capitalism. The author's thesis also serves as a vehicle
for describing the social, political, and personal plight of the
European bourgeois intellectual of Weber's generation.
In synthesizing Weber's life and thought, Arthur Mitzman has
expanded and refined our understanding of this central
twentieth-century figure. As Lewis Coser writes in the preface,
until now "there has been little attempt to bring together the work
and the man, to show the ways in which Weber's cognitive
intentions, his choice of problems, were linked with the details of
his personal biography. Arthur Mitzman fills this gap
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