‘Max Weber’s Dissertation’, History of the Human Sciences, 16, pp. 27—56
The existing scholarly literature on the w ork and life of Max Weber has almost nothing to say about Max W eber’s dissertation which was part of his first book, The History of Commercial Partnerships. This article reconstructs the development of this work. It explores how Weber chose and developed his dissertation, describes its major themes, and analyzes the academic contexts that framed it. O f particular interest is Max W eber’s relationship to Levin Goldschmidt, a leading scholar in the history of commercial law, and Weber’s dissertation chair; also the assessment of each scholar’s w ork by the other. The article also sheds light on how Weber’s dissertation influenced his early career and it addresses Weber’s personal life during this time, including Weber’s relationship to his cousin Em m y Baumgarten, and his life as a bachelor at his parents’ home, ruled by Max Weber Sr. The analysis reveals the remarkable academic challenges Weber faced and the obstacles he overcame in writing his first book, as well as his own extraordinarily difficult personal circumstances. An appendix presents a synopsis of the main arguments and themes of Weber’s dissertation.