The Spirit vs. the Souls
Max Weber, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the Politics of Scholarship
226 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268106010 | August 2019
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268106041 | August 2019
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268106034 | August 2019
Despite the extensive scholarship on Max Weber (1864–1920) and W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963), very little of it examines the contact between the two founding figures of Western sociology. Drawing on their correspondence from 1904 to 1906, and comparing the sociological work that they produced during this period and afterward, The Spirit vs. the Souls: Max Weber, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the Politics of Scholarship examines for the first time the ideas that Weber and Du Bois shared on topics such as sociological investigation, race, empire, unfree labor, capitalism, and socialism. What emerges from this examination is that their ideas on these matters clashed far more than they converged, contrary to the tone of their letters and to the interpretations of the few scholars who have commented on the correspondence between Weber and Du Bois.
Christopher McAuley provides close readings of key texts by the two scholars, including Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, to demonstrate their different views on a number of issues, including the economic benefits of unfree labor in capitalism. The book addresses the distinctly different treatment of the two figures's political sympathies in past scholarship, especially that which discredits some of Du Bois's openly antiracist academic work while failing to consider the markedly imperialist-serving content of some of Weber's. McAuley argues for the acknowledgment and demarginalization of Du Bois's contributions to the scholarly world that academics have generally accorded to Weber. This book will interest students and scholars of black studies, history, and sociology for whom Du Bois and Weber are central figures.
Christopher A. McAuley is associate professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of The Mind of Oliver C. Cox (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004).
"The Spirit vs. the Souls advances a well-imagined conversation between two of the most eminent sociologists of the last century, especially concerning capitalism, imperialism, and the significance of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the shaping of the modern world. Conceptually intriguing and rigorously documented, Christopher McAuley’s astute observations on the rival notions of Weber and Du Bois—and the broader politics of thinking about race—should be measured as an outstanding contribution to African American intellectual history." —Patrick B. Miller, Northeastern Illinois University
"McAuley explores the little-known personal and intellectual relationship between Max Weber and W. E. B. Du Bois in this volume. The two scholars corresponded briefly until, as McAuley claims, the divergence in their ideas made an ongoing relationship impossible. Today, he argues, academia remembers Weber incorrectly as the 'pure scholar,' while downgrading and misconstruing Du Bois’s intellectual credentials as those of a mere 'political academic.'" —Choice
"I think The Spirit vs. the Souls is an outstanding book. The chapters on Max Weber, religion, and capitalism are simply brilliant. I like the rich, textured, and excellent grounding on both the privileges of Weber and W. E. B. Du Bois. I believe that this book will be a hit, a well-rounded, much-needed appraisal of two giants of the discipline of sociology, race, and critical scholarship." —Rodney Coates, Miami University