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Interpreted Modernity. Weber and Taylor on Values and Modernity

Reckling, Falk

The writings of Weber and Taylor have some strong affinities. Both start from the anthropological idea that man evaluates his position in the world and constitutes the social world by values. Their analyses of values aim at an understanding of those intersubjective meanings that have constituted western modernity. But, at the same time, their anthropological starting point leads to different interpretations of modernity. Historically, both argue that rationalization (as instrumental rationality) is one of the most influential Kulturbedeutung of modernity. Weber's thesis of rationalization is, however, entangled in a paradox. Overemphasizing the rationalized elements of modernity, he fails scientifically to grasp certain counter-movements in modernity, such as individuation, subjectivity and new life forms. Taylor, investigating the moral sources of expressivism, shows that these life forms are an inherent part of modernity. Yet his method of articulating the sources of modernity is insufficient to transform it towards a causal explanation of behaviour in everyday life.

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