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Although Weber often announces the value from which he intends to analyze a particular policy, he also acknowledges that the value may be merely a construct of one's culture or society. An example of the influence of culture upon perspective lies in Weber's comments about political economy. As soon as the method of analysis known as political economy makes value judgments, Weber says, "it is tied to the particular strain of humankind (Menschentum) we find within our own nature. ... The economic policy of a German state, and, equally, the criterion of value used by a German economic theorist, can therefore only be a German policy or criterion." Yet the perspective still must be acknowledged.

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Max Weber thought that "statements of fact are one thing, statements of value another, and any confusing of the two is impermissible," Ralf Dahrendorf writes in his essay "Max Weber and Modern Social Science," acknowledging that Weber clarified the difference between pronouncements of fact and of value. Although Dahrendorf goes on to note the ambiguities in Weber's writings between factual analysis and value-influenced pronouncements, he stops short of offering an explanation for them other than to say that Weber, being human, could not always live with his own demands for objectivity. Indeed, Dahrendorf leaves unclear exactly what Weber's view of objectivity was. More specifically, Dahrendorf does not venture to lay out a detailed explanation of whether Weber believed that the social scientist could eliminate the influence of values from the analysis of facts.

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The answer, as will be shown, is both yes and no -- because, this essay will argue, Weber maintained a two-tiered approach to value-free social science. On the one hand, he believed that ultimate values could not be justified "scientifically," that is, through value-free analysis. Thus, in comparing different religious, political or social systems, one system could not be chosen over another without taking a value or end into consideration; the choice would necessarily be dictated by the analyst's values. On the other hand, Weber believed that once a value, end, purpose, or perspective had been established, then a social scientist could conduct a value-free investigation into the most effective means within a system of bringing about the established end. Similarly, Weber believed that objective comparisons among systems could also be made once a particular end had been established, acknowledged, and agreed upon, a position that allowed Weber to make what he considered objective comparisons among such economic systems as and socialism. Thus, even though Weber maintained that ultimate values could not be evaluated objectively, this belief did not keep him from believing that social problems could be scientifically resolved -- once a particular end or value had been established.

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In 1670, and the year following, our author began to form the plan of his ‘Essay on Human Understanding,’ at the earnest request of Mr. Tyrrell, Dr. Thomas, and some other friends, who met frequently in his chamber to converse together on philosophical subjects; but his employments and avocations prevented him from finishing it then—About this time, it is supposed, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

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Our author’s great work, the ‘Essay concerning Human Understanding,’ he had been employed about for some years, and he finished it in Holland about the end of the year 1687. He made an abridgment of it himself, which his friend Mr. Le Clerc translated into French, and inserted in one of his ‘Bibliotheques.’ This abridgment was so highly approved of by all persons of understanding, and sincere lovers of truth, that they expressed the strongest desire to see the whole work.

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In the first essay, the author argues succinctly that both science and art are creative acts of the human mind. It is naïve to think that science is merely a collection or dictionary of facts about nature. For it delves into secrets of nature. In a creative manner, it discovers a perceptible likeness or unity in diversity. A scientist looks for order in the appearances of nature by exploring such likenesses. But science, like art or poetry, “is not a copy of nature, but a re-creation of her” [30].