Max Weber begins his speech called “Science as Vocation” by stating the differences between German and American academic traditions. He complains about the economic difficulties of German Privatdozents compared to American assistants. Weber also criticizes the important role of chance in the academic world. He claims that although “chance does not rule alone, it rules to an unusually high degree”. This causes many gifted people without having enough luck to disappear in the crowd with their original ideas. At this point, Weber is critical of the academic selection and he resembles it to papal election in which the favorite only rarely has a chance to win out. Another problem of the academic world is that academicians are expected to perform two important functions at the same time: being a scholar and a teacher. Being a teacher requires some additional talents such as good temperament and inflection of voice and thus, in Weber’s view a very successful scholar might not be a good teacher.
Another problem related to this occurs in the academia is the partition of the budget for research and instruction. Weber also believes that with specialization in a field, an academic has a chance to achieve something truly perfect in the field of science. Ideas are very important in Weber’s view that without ideas even hard-work would not create a successful scholar. However, Weber also mentions about the difference between art and science and points out that unlike art, scientific work is chained to the course of progress. Max Weber also thinks that vocation of the scientist is an ad infinitum process and new scientific knowledge might surpass the old one. At this point, the role of the scientist to deal with the science which is a dynamic infinite search of truth is to deal with science for the sake of science not for personal benefits.
One noticeable feature of Weber’s ideas is that he believes in the progress. He gives the example of Plato’s “Simile of Cave” to support his ideas about the progress. Weber also complains about the youth who sees “science as the way to nature” as a blasphemy. Weber admits that science has some presumptions which are derived from the rules of logic and method. Moreover, only scientific knowledge, which worth being known, has an important place in the academia.