Friday, September 2, 2016

Max Weber on Inconvenient Facts

This week before Labor Day, news about economics tends to be scarce, while academics and teachers are looking ahead to the next term. In that spirit, I'm going to pass along some thoughts about teaching this week.

With the 2016 election season in full force, here's a timeless thought from Max Weber in his 1918 lecture, "Science as a Vocation" (available various place on the web, like here and here).

“The primary task of a useful teacher is to teach his students to recognize 'inconvenient' facts--I mean facts that are inconvenient for their party opinions. And for every party opinion there are facts that are extremely inconvenient, for my own opinion no less than for others. I believe the teacher accomplishes more than a mere intellectual task if he compels his audience to accustom itself to the existence of such facts. I would be so immodest as even to apply the expression 'moral achievement,' though perhaps this may sound too grandiose for something that should go without saying.”