Mauss, Weber, magic, science, sacrifice, prayer
The article argues that Marcel Mauss, just as Max Weber, and only they, have a very special place among the sociological classics. This is because they, more than any of their contemporaries, perceived that the rise of the modern world and its study, even considering its ‘potentiality’, poses more serious problems than this was presumed. In particular, they recognised the problems generated by modern science and technology, and especially by the presumed need to imitate the methods of the ‘natural’ sciences. While for Weber this meant a perennial conflict with the dominant neo-Kantian forces of German philosophy, especially Rickert, most visible in their different evaluation of the work of Wilhelm Dilthey, for Mauss it meant the even more difficult distancing from Durkheim, his uncle and mentor. It also implied the tragically broken character of the career of both, and the similarly tragic, long-time mis-characterisation of their work as belonging to mainstream sociology. But it also implies that their work has still great untapped value for us, in our current situation, when the problems with the modern world, especially its science and technology are better visible than ever.