A Celebration of Max Weber

Pashupatinath Hindu temple in Kathmandu © Jamie Mitchell

Hinduism and Buddhism was Max Weber’s second essay (after Confucianism and Taoism), which examined the economic ethics of the world religions. SOAS University of London held an important three-day conference in September to reflect on the influence of this sociological classic, 100 years on.

Hinduism and Buddhism marks Weber’s preoccupation with the religions and ethics of South Asia and their diffusion throughout the region. Weber lacked the knowledge to interrelate religions to social, political and economic currents according to today’s much richer scholarly sources, but his handling of a number of themes remains classic and exemplary and just as relevant today as when his work was first published.

The SOAS conference was organised in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London, Nehru Centre London, Max Weber Studies, Max Weber Kolleg Erfurt, and the British Sociological Association.

Speakers included Romila Thapar, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Stephen Kalberg, Boston University; Andreas Buss, University of Ottawa; Hermann Kulke, University of Kiel; Wolfgang Schluchter, University of Heidelberg; Richard Gombrich, University of Oxford; Peter Flügel, SOAS; Susantha Goonatilake, Royal Asiatic Society; Sam Whister, Max Weber Studies; Meghnad Jagdishchandra Desai, House of Lords; Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer, Lichtenberg-Kolleg; David Gellner, University of Oxford; Hans G. Kippenberg, Jacob’s University; Laura R. Ford, Bard College; and Martin Fuchs, Max Weber Kolleg.

At SOAS it is possible to study a wider range of religious and philosophical traditions in more depth than any other programme in the field, anywhere in the world.

SOAS’s interdisciplinary approach offers a unique learning and research environment, providing a truly inter-cultural approach to systems of belief and thought in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The Department of Religions and Philosophies at SOAS runs taught Masters degrees in MA Buddhist Studies; MA Religion in Global Politics; MA Religions of Asia and Africa; and MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation.

The MA Buddhist Studies programme is designed for students interested in broadening their knowledge of Buddhism as a whole or of specific Buddhist traditions, and those who wish to embark on language-based fieldwork among Buddhist communities. The course will also be of interest to students from traditionally Buddhist countries, wishing to broaden their knowledge of Buddhism as a global religion.

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