Max Weber has often been called an Methodological Individualist. He believes that in principle, every sociologist should start with the only thing that is really real in the human sciences, human beings. It's okay to talk about protestantism or capitalism about the economy or the political system, about the church or the law as long as you don't forget that those entities are ideal typical constructions and that the only thing that is real, that is present in the world out there that you can observe and touch Interview and listen to as human individuals. When all is said and done, society can not be anything else than just that, all the individuals that compose the society. In many places in his work, Weber has been outspoken about this. For example, when he writes about the state. He reminds his readers that the state is nothing else than the chance that certain individuals will act in this way rather than acting in that way and I can't refrain from quoting something that was written. Not by Max Weber, but by a famous colleague and friend of Max Weber, the Sociologist and Professor Georg Simmel, who developed his own brand of methodological individualism and who wrote this beautiful line that I want to share with you. Groping for something tangible, we found only individuals and between them, so to speak nothing, but empty space. [FOREIGN] Empty space. Sociology teachers have made it their pride and joy to oppose Weber and Durkheim, the methodological individualist versus the sociological holist. They are a bit handicapped by defect that the greatest sociologist in France, everybody agreed about it, around the year 1910. And the greatest sociologists in Germany around 1910 were of course, aware of each others existence, but never reacted to each other's work as far as I know. Now the debate between Durkheim and the French methodological individualist Gabriel Tarde is in fact, as close as you can get. And by the way, this is an interesting observation in its own right. I think that in sociology today, this would be quite impossible. Imagine those two sociological heavyweights, they would see each other in international conferences. They would be invited by scientific journalists in interviews to comment on each other's work. I think they will be forced into the ring. The opposition between them can be most easily summarized in negative sentences. You can say, Durkheim believes that when a social fact is reduced into an individual fact, that explanation must be wrong. And Weber believes that if a general sociological concept like the state or feudalism cannot be put in terms of the chance that individuals would act in this way or in that way, then the concept should be abundant. Maybe the opposition is a bit smaller than it seems, but there is here at least a difference in style in what should be given focal attention and how that should be approached. But when you read the more empirical studies of those two giants of sociology, the difference sometimes seems to evaporate. Durkheim, for example, cannot escape from being interested in what happens to somebody who is struck by a general atmosphere of enemy. His arguments about anomic suicides are so convincing, because we can easily imagine what the world must look like for an individual living in a period of anomie. And Weber on the other hand, cannot always force himself to keep an eye on the actions of individual human beings. He has become very famous for his grand analysis of macro-sociological processes, such as the process of rationalization or the process of bureaucratization. Those two theorists were far too clever to be imprisoned by their own methodological prescriptions. But now you may say, what about that relationship between individual and society who's right here? Well, I guess that Max Weber and Emile Durkheim would both agree with few simple words from a literary author, I will give you a quote from a book called The Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Marco Polo describes a bridge stone by stone, but which is the stone that supports the bridge, Kublai Khan asks. The bridge is not supported by one stone or another, Marco answers. But by the line of the arch that they form, Kublai Khan remains silent. Reflecting. Then he says, why do you speak to me of stones? It is only the arch that matters to me. Polo answers, without stones, there is no arch.