Weber's Concept of Richtigkeitsrationalitaet and Rationality of Compathy: The Case of Filial Piety and Funeral Ritual Reform in China

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Sang-Jin HAN, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea
Weber proposed different sets of ideal-typical conceptualization of rationality which have made great contributions to a social theory of rationality. Yet the limit of the Weberian paradigm is also clear as epitomized by the destructive consequences of instrumental (purposive) rationality prevailing in modern systems today. However, Weber kept the term ‘Richtigkeitsrationalitaet’ in his 1913 article on the categories of interpretive sociology. Here ‘richtig’ may mean ‘correct or common’ as widely shared, deeply rooted, and thus anticipatable. This paper attempts to go back to this concept, as an undifferentiated ground concept of rationality, to clarify where Weber’s analytic work started from and explore what, despite his great contribution, we have lost because of his preoccupation with analytic clarity of the concepts at the cost of the profound significance of this ground concept. One key problem is the rationality of normative claims. Habermas has attempted to solve this problem by his theory of communication and discursive testing. Another problem is related to emotion in general and compathy in particular. This paper will show how the issue of compathy is deeply built into Weber’s concept of Richtigkeitsrationalitaet and how we can possibly deal with this issue from the perspective of rationality. For this purpose, this paper will examine the Chinese concept of Qingli relation (Qing means emotion or context, Li means reason) and explore its possible rationality by a case study of the funeral ritual reform policy taken by the Communist Party and the popular response to it from the ethical perspective of filial piety as a vivid example of compathy.