Science as a Calling/Vocation 1917/1919

Weber / W 1889-1905 / PE / W 1906-20 / WB  / PB / Religionssoziologie


Wissenschaft als Beruf.

“Bericht über den Vortrag beim Freistudentischen Bund am 7. Nov. 1917 in München.” Wissenschaft als Beruf. Münchner Neueste Nachrichten, Nr. 567, 9. Nov. 1917. MWG I:17, S. 67-69

Wissenschaft als Beruf (Geistige Arbeit als Beruf. Vorträge vor dem Freistudentischen Bund. Erster Vortrag). München und Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot 1919. MWG I:17, S. 49-111. GAW 582-613.

Science as a profession and vocation. In Max Weber: Collected methodological writings.  Edited by Hans Henrik Bruun and Sam Whimster. Translated by Hans Henrik Bruun. Routledge, London and New York 2012.

“Science as a Vocation.” In Max Weber: The vocation lectures. Edited and with an Introduction by David Owen and Tracy B. Strong. Translation by Rodney Livingstone. Hackett Publishing Company Indiana Polis/ Cambridge 2004.

“Science as a Vocation.” In Max Weber’s Complete Writings on Academic and Political Vocations Edited and with an ontroduction by John Dreijmanis.  Translation by Gordon C. Wells Algora Publishing, New York 2008.

Tiede kutsumuksena. Suomentanut Tapani Hietaniemi. Teoksessa Tiede ja politiikka kutsumus ja ammatti. Vastapaino 2009.



SCIENCE AS A VOCATION (Wissenschaft als Beruf 1917)



THE EXTERNAL CONDITIONS (äußeren Verhältnissen)

“Capitalization” and “bureaucratization” of the University


Here we encounter the same condition that is found wherever capitalist enterprise comes into operation: the ‘separation of the worker from his means of production.’

The worker, that is, the assistant, is dependent upon the implements that the state puts at his disposal; hence he is just as dependent upon the head of the institute as is the employee in a factory upon the management. For, subjectively and in good faith, the director believes that this institute is ‘his,’ and he manages its affairs.

Thus the assistant’s position is often as precarious as is that of any ‘quasi-proletarian’ existence.

“In very important respects German university life is being Americanized, as is German life in general. This development, I am convinced, will engulf those disciplines in which the craftsman personally owns the tools, essentially the library, as is still the case to a large extent in my own field. This development corresponds entirely to what happened to the artisan of the past and it is now fully under way.”

“As with all capitalist and at the same time bureaucratized enterprises, there are indubitable advantages in all this. But the ‘spirit’ that rules in these affairs is different from the historical atmosphere of the German university. An extraordinarily wide gulf, externally and internally, exists between the chief of these large, capitalist, university enterprises and the usual full professor of the old style.”

Inwardly as well as externally, the old university constitution has become fictitious.

The University Career

The question whether or not such a Privatdozent, and still more an assistant, will ever succeed in moving into the position of a full professor or even become the head of an institute. That is simply a hazard.

I know of hardly any career on earth where hazard plays such a role.

No university teacher thinks back with pleasure on discussions of appointments, for they are seldom pleasant.

Academic life is a mad hazard (Das akademische Leben ist ein wilder Hasard).

“But one must ask every other man: Do you in all conscience believe that you can stand seeing mediocrity after mediocrity, year after year, climb beyond you, without becoming embittered and without coming to grief?

Naturally, one always receives the answer: ‘Of course, I live only for my “calling.”

Yet, I have found that only a few men could endure this situation without coming to grief.



THE INWARD CALLING FOR SCIENCE  (Inneren Berufe zur Wissenschaft)


“Only by strict specialization can the scientific worker become fully conscious, for once and perhaps never again in his lifetime, that he has achieved something that will endure. A really definitive and good accomplishment is today always a specialized accomplishment.” 

And whoever lacks the capacity to put on blinders, so to speak, and to come up to the idea that the fate of his soul depends upon whether or not he makes the correct conjecture at this passage of this manuscript may as well stay away from science.

He will never have what may be called the “lived experience” (erlebnis) of science.

Without this strange intoxication, ridiculed by every outsider; without this passion, this ‘thousands of years must pass before you enter into life and thousands more wait in silence’–according to whether or not you succeed in making this conjecture; without this, you have no calling for science and you should do something else.

Passion for Science


Nothing has any value for human, as a human being, that he cannot do with passion. (Denn nichts ist für den Menschen als Menschen etwas wert, was er nicht mit Leidenschaft tun kann.)

Yet it is a fact that no amount of such passion, however sincere and profound it may be, can compel a problem to yield results.

Certainly, it is a precondition of something decisive (Entscheidenden): Inspiration (Eingebung).

Nowadays in circles of youth there is a widespread notion that science has become a problem in calculation, fabricated in laboratories or statistical filing systems just as ‘in a factory,’ a calculation involving only the cool intellect and not one’s ‘heart and soul.’ First of all one must say that such comments lack all clarity about what goes on in a factory or in a laboratory.

In both some idea has to occur to someone’s mind, and it has to be a correct idea, if one is to accomplish anything worthwhile. And such Idea (Einfall) cannot be forced. It has nothing to do with any cold calculation.

Certainly calculation is also an indispensable prerequisite.

The idea (Einfall)  is not a substitute for work; and work, in turn, cannot substitute for or compel an idea, just as little as passion can. Both, passion and work, and above all both of them jointly, can entice the idea.

Ideas occur to us when they please, not when it pleases us. (Aber er kommt, wenn es ihm, nicht, wenn es uns beliebt.)

In any case, ideas come when we do not expect them, and not when we are brooding and searching at our desks. Yet ideas would certainly not come to mind had we not brooded at our desks and searched for answers with passionate devotion.

Inspiration plays no less a role in science than it does in the realm of art. It is a childish notion to think that a mathematician attains any scientifically valuable results by sitting at his desk with a ruler, calculating machines or other mechanical means.


Both are frenzy (Rausch) in the sense of Plato’s ‘mania’ and ‘inspiration (Eingebung).

Now, whether we have scientific inspiration depends upon destinies that are hidden from us, and besides upon ‘gifts.’

Last but not least, because of this indubitable truth, a very understandable attitude has become popular, especially among youth, and has put them in the service of idols whose cult today occupies a broad place on all street corners and in all periodicals.

These idols (Götzen) are ‘personality (Persönlichkeit) and lived (Erleben).

One puts oneself through agonies in order to have “lived” (erleben) — for that befits for a the life-style (Lebensführung ) of personality — and if one fails, one at least has to act
as if one had this gift of grace.

Formerly we called this ‘lived experience (Erlebnis),’ in plain German, ‘sensation (Sensation).

In the field of science only he who is devoted purely to the matter (Sache) has personality.




 As far as his art is concerned, even with a personality of Goethe’s rank, it has been detrimental to take the liberty of trying to make his ‘life’ into a work of art. And even if one doubts this, one has to be a Goethe in order to dare permit oneself such liberty. Everybody will admit at least this much: that even with a person like Goethe, who appears once in a thousand years, this liberty did not go unpaid for.

In the field of science, however, the person who makes himself the impresario of the subject to which he should be devoted, and steps upon the stage and seeks to legitimate himself through ‘lived’ (Erleben) asking: How can I prove that I am something other than a mere ‘specialist’ and how can I manage to say something in form or in content that nobody else has ever said?

This is a phenomenon that is found on a massive scale in our time. It always appears petty, and diminishes the person who asks such questions, whereas inward devotion to his task, and that alone, would raise him to the height and dignity (Würde) of the cause that he claims to serve. This is also no different for the artist.

In contrast with these preconditions which scientific work shares with art, science has a fate that profoundly distinguishes it from artistic work. Scientific work is chained to the course of progress; whereas in the realm of art there is no progress in the same sense.

A work of art that attains real “fulfillment” (Erfüllung) will never be surpassed, and
will never become obsolete; the individual may assess its significance for himself
variously, but no one will ever be able to say of a work that attains real “fulfillment”
in the artistic sense that it has been “surpassed” by another one that also
attains “fulfillment.”

The Meaning (Sinn) of Science

Every scientific “fulfillment” means new “questions,” and is intended to be surpassed and rendered obsolete.

It is not only the fate, but also the goal, of all of us to be surpassed scientifically. We cannot work without hoping that others will get further than we have. In principle, this
progress can go on indefinitely.

It is not self-evident that something subordinate to such a law has any meaning or reason in itself.

Why does one engage in doing something that in reality never comes, and never can come, to an end?

Scientific progress is a fraction, the most important fraction, of the process of intellectualization (Intellektualisierungsprozesses) which we have been undergoing for thousands of years and which nowadays is usually judged in such an extremely negative way.

hottentot Does it mean that we, today, for instance, everyone sitting in this hall, have a greater knowledge of the conditions of life under which we exist than has an American Indian or a Hottentot? Hardly.

Unless he is a physicist, one who rides on the streetcar has no idea how the car happened to get into motion. And he does not need to know. He is satisfied that he may ‘count’ on the behavior of the streetcar, and he orients his conduct according to this expectation; but he knows nothing about what it takes to produce such a car so that it can move. The savage knows incomparably more about his tools.


 Disenchantment (Entzauberung)


The increasing intellectualization and rationalization do not, therefore, indicate an increased and general knowledge of the conditions under which one lives.

It means that principally there are no mysterious incalculable forces that come into play, but rather that one can, in principle, master all things by calculation.

This means that the world is disenchanted. (Das aber bedeutet: die Entzauberung der Welt.)

One need no longer have recourse to magical means in order to master or implore the spirits, as did the savage, for whom such mysterious powers existed. Technical means and calculations perform the service. This above all is what intellectualization means.

The Meaning of Death 


Tolstoy’s answer was: for cultural man (Kulturmenschen) death has no meaning.

It has none because the individual life of civilized man, placed into an infinite ‘progress,’ according to its own immanent meaning should never come to an end; for there is always a further step ahead of one who stands in the march of progress. And no person who comes to die stands upon the peak which lies in infinity.

Abraham, or some peasant of the past, died ‘old and satiated with life’ (»alt und lebensgesättigt) because he stood in the organic cycle of life; because his life, in terms of its meaning and on the eve of his days, had given to him what life had to offer; because for him there remained no puzzles he might wish to solve; and therefore he could have had ‘enough’ of life.

Whereas civilized man, placed in the midst of the continuous enrichment of culture by ideas, knowledge, and problems, may become ‘tired of life’ (lebensmüde) but not ‘satiated with life.’ (lebensgesättigt).

He catches only the most minute part of what the life of the spirit brings forth ever anew, and what he seizes is always something provisional and not definitive, and therefore death for him is a meaningless occurrence (sinnlose Begebenheit)

And because death is meaningless, civilized life as such is meaningless; by its very ‘progressiveness’ it gives death the imprint of meaninglessness (Sinnlosigkeit).




You will recall the wonderful image at the beginning of the seventh book of Plato’s Republic […] the truth of science, which alone seizes not upon illusions and shadows but upon the true being. Well, who today views science in such a manner ?

Today youth feels rather the reverse: the intellectual constructions of science constitute an unreal realm of artificial abstractions, which with their bony hands seek to grasp the blood-and-the-sap of true life without ever catching up with it. But here in life, in what for Plato was the play of shadows on the walls of the cave, genuine reality is pulsating; and the rest are derivatives of life, lifeless ghosts, and nothing else.

How did this change come about?

The Concept (Begriff) – The way to true being ?



“Plato’s passionate enthusiasm in The Republic must, in the last analysis, be explained by the fact that for the first time the concept, one of the great tools of all scientific knowledge, had been consciously discovered […] It seemed to follow that if one only found the right concept of the beautiful, the good, or, for instance, of bravery, of the soul–or whatever–that then one could also grasp its true being (wahres Sein). And this, in turn, seemed to open the way for knowing and for teaching how to act rightly in life and, above all, how to act as a citizen; for this question was everything to the Hellenic man, whose thinking was political throughout.”

The Experiment – The Way to true Art ?


The second great tool or scientific work, the rational experiment, made is appearance at the side of this discovery of the Hellenic spirit during the Renaissance period […] To raise the experiment to a principle of research was the achievement of the Renaissance. They were the great innovators in art, who were the pioneers of experiment […] What did science mean to these persons who stood at the threshold of modern times ? To artistic experimenters of the type of Leonardo and the musical innovators, science meant the path to true art, and that meant for them the path to true nature.

And today? ‘Science as the way to nature’ would sound like blasphemy to youth. Today, youth proclaims the opposite: redemption from the intellectualism of science in order to return to one’s own nature and therewith to nature in general. Science as a way to art? Here no criticism is even needed.

Lived experience (Erlebnis) – The Path to God (Weg zu Gott) ?


“All pietist theology of the time […] knew that God was not to be found along the road by which the Middle Ages had sought him. God is hidden, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. In the natural sciences, however, where one could physically grasp his works, one hoped to come upon the traces of what he planned for the world.

And today? Who–aside from certain big children in the natural sciences– still believes that the findings of astronomy, biology, physics, or chemistry could teach us anything about the meaning of the world? (Sinn der Welt)  If there is any such ‘meaning,’ along what road could one come upon its tracks? If these natural sciences lead to anything in this way, they are apt to make the belief that there is such a thing as the ‘meaning’ of the universe die out at its very roots.

And finally, science as a way ‘to God’? Science, this specifically irreligious power (gottfremde Macht)? […] Redemption from the rationalism and intellectualism of science is the fundamental presupposition of living in union with the divine.

This, or something similar in meaning, is one of the fundamental watchwords one hears among youth, whose feelings are attuned to religion or who crave religious lived experiences (Erlebnis).

They crave not only religious experience but lived experience (Erlebnis) overall. The only thing that is strange is the method that is now followed: the spheres of the irrational, the only spheres that intellectualism has not yet touched, are now raised into consciousness and put under its lens.

The Path to Happiness ?


After Nietzsche’s devastating criticism of those ‘last men’ (letzten Menschen), who ‘invented happiness (das Glück), I may leave aside altogether the naive optimism in which science–that is, the technique of mastering life which rests upon science, has been celebrated as the way to happiness.

Who believes in this?–aside from a few big children in university chairs or editorial offices.

How shall we live?


What is the meaning of science as a vocation, now after all these former illusions, the ‘way to true being,’ the ‘way to true art,’ the ‘way to true nature,’ the ‘way to true God,’ the ‘way to true happiness,’ have been dispelled?

Tolstoi has given the simplest answer, with the words: ‘Science is meaningless because it gives no answer, the only question important for us: “what shall we do and how shall we live?” (Was sollen wir tun? Wie sollen wir leben?)

That science does not give an answer to this is indisputable.


WORTH OF KNOWING (Wissenswert)


All scientific work presupposes that the rules of logic and method are valid; these are the general foundations of our orientation in the world. […] Science further presupposes that what is yielded by scientific work is important in the sense that it is ‘worth being known. […] This presupposition cannot be proved by scientific means. It can only be interpreted with reference to its ultimate meaning, which we must reject or accept according to our ultimate position towards life.

Still less can it be proved that the existence of the world which these sciences describe is worth while, that it has any ‘meaning,’ or that it makes sense to live in such a world. Science does not ask for the answers to such questions.

Whether life is worth while living and when– is not asked by medicine. Natural science gives us an answer to the question of what we must do if we wish to master life technically. It leaves quite aside, or assumes for its purposes, whether we should and do wish to master life technically and whether it ultimately makes sense to do so.

Aesthetics does not ask whether there should be works of art.

Whether there should be law and whether one should establish just these rules–such questions jurisprudence does not answer.

The historical and cultural sciences […] teach us how to understand and interpret political, artistic, literary, and social phenomena in terms of their origins. But they give us no answer to the question, whether the existence of these cultural phenomena have been and are worth while.  And they do not answer the further question, whether it is worth the effort required to know them.

Teacher ⇔ Prophet 


Politics does not belong to the lecture-room. (Politik gehört nicht in den Hörsaal.)

To take a practical political stand is one thing, and to analyze political structures and party positions is another. When speaking in a political meeting about democracy, one does not hide one’s personal standpoint; indeed to come out clearly and take a stand is one’s damned duty. The words one uses in such a meeting are not means of scientific analysis but political means to have impact to the standpoint of others. 

They are not plowshares to loosen the soil of contemplative thinking; they are swords against the adversary (Gegner ). They are weapons (Kampfmittel).

It would be an outrage, however, to use words in this fashion in a lecture or in the lecture-room.

But the true teacher will beware of imposing from the platform any political position upon the student, whether explicitly or by suggestion.  ‘To let the facts speak for themselves’ is of course the most unfair way of putting over a political position to the student.

Now one cannot demonstrate scientifically what the duty of an academic teacher is. One can only demand of the teacher that he have the intellectual uprightness (intellektuelle Rechtschaffenheit) to see that it is one thing to state facts, to determine mathematical or logical relations or the internal structure of cultural values, while it is another thing to answer questions of the value of culture (Wert der Kultur) and its individual contents and the question of how one should act in the cultural community and in political associations. These are quite heterogeneous problems.

If he asks further why he should not deal with both types of problems in the lecture-room, the answer is: because the prophet and the demagogue do not belong on the academic platform.

To the prophet and the demagogue, it is said: ‘Go your ways out into the streets and speak in public,’ that is, speak where criticism is possible. In the lecture-room we stand opposite our audience, and it has to remain silent. I deem it irresponsible to exploit the circumstance that for the sake of their career the students have to attend a teacher’s course while there is nobody present to oppose him with criticism. The task of the teacher is to serve the students with his knowledge and scientific experience and not to imprint upon them his personal political views.

The primary task of a useful teacher is to teach his students to recognize ‘inconvenient’ facts (unbequeme Tatsachen)




The impossibility of “scientific” representation of practical standpoints – except in the case of a discussion of the means for a given purpose – follows from much deeper grounds. It is meaningless in principle, because the various value-orders (Wertordnungen) of the world are in irreconcilable struggle (Kampf) with each other.

If one proceeds from pure experience, one arrives at polytheism. (J.S. Mill)

If anything, we realize again today that something can be sacred  (heilig) not only in spite of its not being beautiful, but rather because and in so far as it is not beautiful […] And, since Nietzsche, we realize that something can be beautiful, not only in spite of the aspect in which it is not good, but rather in that very aspect. This was expressed earlier in the Fleurs du mal, as Baudelaire named volume of his poems. And it is commonplace to observe that something may be true although it is not beautiful and not holy and not good. Indeed it may be true in precisely those aspects.

But these are only the most elementary cases of the struggle that the gods of the individual orders and values are engaged in.

I do not know how one might wish to decide ‘scientifically’ the value of French and German culture; for here, too, different gods fight with one another, now and for all times to come.

We live as did the ancients when their world was not yet disenchanted of its gods and demons, only we live in a different sense.

Fate (Schicksal), and certainly no ‘science,’ holds sway over these gods and their struggles. One can only understand what the godhead is for the one order or for the other, or better, what godhead is in the one or in the other order.

Manly dignity (Manneswürde)

What person will take upon himself the attempt to ‘refute scientifically’ the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount? For instance, the sentence, ‘resist no evil,’ or the image of turning the other cheek? And yet it is clear, in inner-wordly perspective, this is an undignified ethic (Ethik der Würdelosigkeit). One has to choose between the religious dignity, which this ethic confers and the manly dignity (Manneswürde) which preaches something quite different; ‘resist evil–lest you be co-responsible for an overpowering evil.

According to our ultimate standpoint, the one is the devil and the other the God, and the individual has to decide which is God for him and which is the devil. And so it goes throughout all the orders of life.

The rebirth of the value-struggle 


The grandiose rationalism of an ethical and methodical conduct of life which flows from every religious prophecy has dethroned this polytheism in favour of the ‘one thing that is needful.’

Today the routines of everyday life challenge religion. Old gods ascend from their graves; they are disenchanted and hence take the figure of impersonal powers (unpersönlicher Mächte). They strive to gain power (Gewalt) over our lives and again they resume their eternal struggle(ewigen Kampf) with one another.

What is hard for modern man, and especially for the younger generation, is to measure up to everyday existence. The ubiquitous chase for “lived experience” (erlebnis) stems from this weakness (Schwäche). For it is weakness not to be able to face the graveness of the fate of time (Schicksal der Zeit).  

The fate of our culture is that we become more aware of this again, after our eyes have been blinded for a thousand years by the allegedly or presumably exclusive orientation towards the grandiose pathos of Christian ethics.

Leader (Führer) ⇔ Teacher (Lehrer)

 They [youth] seek in the professor something different from what stands before them. They crave a leader and not a teacher. But we are placed upon the platform solely as teachers.[…] You come to our lectures and demand from us the qualities of leadership (Führerqualitäten), and you fail to realize in advance that of a hundred professors at least ninety-nine do not and must not claim to be football masters in the vital problems of life, or even to be ‘leaders’ in matters of conduct. Please, consider that an individual’s value does not depend on whether or not he has leadership qualities.

The Contribution of Science to the Life

  1. Knowledge of Technics, how to control life, external things as well as human actions, by calculation.
  2. Methods of thinking, tools and training.
  3. To gain clarity (Klarheit) 
    • If you take such and such a stand, then, according to scientific experience (Erfahrung), you have to use such and such a means (Mittel) in order to carry out your conviction practically.
    • Now, these means are perhaps such that you believe you must reject them. Then you simply must choose between the end and the inevitable means. Does the end ‘justify’ the means? Or does it not? The teacher can confront you with the necessity of this choice. He cannot do more, so long as he wishes to remain a teacher and not to become a demagogue.
  4.  Inner consistency and honesty (Ehrlichkeit)
    • In terms of its meaning, such and such a practical stand can be derived with inner consistency, and hence honesty, from this or that ultimate basic position of the worldview.


To give an account of himself 


We can force the individual, or at least we can help him, to give himself an account of the ultimate meaning of his own conduct.

Teacher who succeeds in this stands in the service of ‘moral’ power (sittlicher Mächte); the duty (Pflicht) to bring self-clarification (Klarheit) and a sense of responsibility (Verantwortunsgefühl). 

Fundamental fact: Immanent struggle 

So long as life remains immanent and is understood in its own terms, it knows only the eternal struggle of these gods with one another. Or speaking unmetaphorically, because the ultimately possible attitudes toward life are irreconcilable and their struggle unsettled, it is necessary to make decision (entscheiden).

Intellectualism as the devil

‘Mind you, the devil is old; grow old to understand him.’ (Giethe: Faust) 

One has to see the devil’s ways to the end in order to realize his power and his limitations.

 Godless (gottfremden) and prophetless (prophetenlosen) time

Science today is a professionally practiced “vocation” in the service of self-reflection and the recognition of factual connections, and not a gift of grace of seers and prophets dispensing sacred values and revelations, nor does it partake of the contemplation of sages and philosophers about the meaning of the world. As science does not, who is to answer the question ‘What shall we do, and, how shall we arrange our lives?’

Which of the warring gods should we serve?

Or should we serve perhaps an entirely different god, and who is he?’

Then one can say that only a prophet or a savior can give the answers.

The prophet for whom so many of our younger generation yearn simply does not exist.

The inward interest of a truly religiously ‘musical’ person can never be served by veiling to him and to others the fundamental fact that he is destined to live in a godless (gottfremden) and prophetless (prophetenlosen) time by giving him these cathedra-    prophesies (Kathederprophetien) as surrogates.  The honesty of his religious organ, it seems to me, must rebel against this.



In the Occident the development of theology has had by far the greatest historical significance. This is the product of the Hellenic spirit, and all theology of the West goes back to it, as all theology of the East goes back to Indian thought.

All theology is the intellectual rationalization of religious sacralization.

Every theology […] presupposes that the world must have a meaning, and the question is how to interpret this meaning so that it is thinkable.

It is the same as with Kant’s epistemology. He took for his point of departure the presupposition: ‘Scientific truth exists and it is valid,’ and then asked: ‘Under which presuppositions of thought is truth possible and meaningful ?

Theologies, however, do not content themselves with this (essentially religious and philosophical) presupposition. They regularly proceed from the further presupposition that certain ‘revelations’ are facts relevant for salvation and as such make possible a meaningful conduct of life (Lebensführung).

Moreover, theologies presuppose that certain subjective states and acts possess the quality of holiness, that is, they constitute a conduct of life (Lebensführung), or at least elements of one, that is religiously meaningful.

Then the question of theology is: How can these presuppositions, which must simple be assumed in an overall worldview, make sense? For theology, these presuppositions as such lie beyond the limits of ‘science.’ They are not ‘knowledge,’ (Wissen) in the commonly understood sense, but rather a ‘possession (Haben).’

Anyone who does not “have” them – faith or other holy states – cannot substitute theology nor any other science for them. On the contrary, in every ‘positive’ theology, the devout reaches the point where the Augustinian sentence holds: credo non quod, sed quia absurdum est. [not from Augustine, but from Tertullian: propis credible, quia ineptum est]

The capacity for the accomplishment of religious virtuosos–the ‘sacrifice of intellect’ (Opfers des Intellekts) is the decisive characteristic of the positively religious man. 

That this is so is shown by the fact that despite (or rather because) of theology (which unveils it) the tension between the value-spheres of science and religious holy is unbridgeable.




The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the ‘disenchantment of the world.’

Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations.

It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental, nor is it accidental that today only within the smallest and intimate circles, in personal human situations, in pianissimo, that something is pulsating that corresponds to the prophetic pneuma, which in former times swept through the great communities like a firebrand, welding them together.

If we attempt to force and to ‘invent’ a monumental style in art, such miserable monstrosities are produced as the many monuments of the last twenty years. If one tries to ponder new religions without a new and genuine prophecy, then, in an inner sense, something similar will result, but with still worse effects. And academic prophecy, finally, will create only fanatical sects but never a genuine community.

Who cannot bear manly the fate of the times, one must say: may he rather return silently, without the usual publicity build-up of renegades, but simply and plainly to the arms of the old churches, which are opened widely and compassionately for him.

One way or another he has to bring his ‘intellectual sacrifice’–that is inevitable. If he can really do it, we shall not rebuke him.

Such religious return stands higher than the academic prophecy, which does not clearly realize that in the lecture-rooms of the university no other virtue holds but plain intellectual honesty (intellektuelle Rechtschaffenheit).

Demands of the day

We shall set to work and meet the ‘demands of the day,’ (Forderung des Tages) both human and vocational. This, however, is plain and simple, if each finds and obeys the daimon (Dämon) who holds the strings of his life.