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Worldview and relationships to the world: The concepts of karma(n) and bhakti in Weber’s study on Hinduism and Buddhism11From the conference, ‘Translating and editing Max Weber: experiences, insights and irritations’, on the occasion of the one hundred an


Martin Fuchs

Weber’s Comparative Essays on the Sociology of Religion raise the problem of intercultural translation, still insufficiently attended to in discussions of Weber’s work. This article discusses questions of translation in the context of his concept of world relations and with respect to his representation of Hinduism. Weberian sociology of religion has established a schematic classification of world religions in terms of world views and attitudes towards the world. The article contends that a relationship to the world comprises phenomenological, hermeneutic, and practical-ethical aspects. It criticizes Weber’s textualist reading of Hindu religions and his neglect of the interpretive capacities of groups in India embedded and living in the world. The article demonstrates the implications of this neglect for intercultural translation and understanding taking the examples of karma theory and of world-affirming attitudes of bhakti.

For a detailed discussion of Max Weber’s study of India, see Fuchs 1987 and Fuchs 1988; also see Fuchs 2016 (in print).

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