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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

DOI https://doi.org/10.15543/MWS/2016/2/6

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.

Martin Fuchs 1

1 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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3 Asad, T. 1993. ’Übersetzen zwischen Kulturen. Ein Konzept der britischen Sozialanthropologie’. In Kultur, soziale Praxis, Text: Die Krise der ethnographischen Repräsentation, ed. Berg E. and Fuchs M., 300-334. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp. (Original 1986, ’The concept of cultural translation in British Social Anthropology’. In Writing Culture. The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, ed. J. Clifford and G.E. Marcus, 141-64 Berkeley: University of California Press.)

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7 Fuchs, M. forthcoming 2016. ‘Sociological Entanglements: Max Weber’s Comparative Engagement with India’. In Philosophy and Science: Indo-German Dialogues and Dimensions, ed. Harder Hans and Raina Dhruv.

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23 Weber, Max 2004. ‘The “Objectivity” of Knowledge in Social Science and Social Policy’. In The Essential Weber: A Reader, ed. Whimster S., 359-404. London: Routledge.

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