Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capital

1764 Words 8 Pages
In Max Weber’s arguably most influential work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber argues that a specific religious ethic shaped how Capitalism spread across the globe and transitioned into the modern age. Influenced by the idea of the ‘calling’ or one’s worldly task determined by God (39), this ethic actually incentivized people to work more in their mundane, secular occupations in order to accumulate physical wealth as an indication of God’s favor. Overall, this essay will be a self-discussion of the various ideas Weber introduces as well as other topics that caught my attention while reading his work. One aspect I like about Weber is his approach to understand modern Capitalism as a product of religion. On page …show more content…
This viewpoint gives religion its fair chance to display its significance within society and modernity without being blatantly reductionistic. Although, I will admit, in regards to Weber’s approach, there was one specific, moment when I thought he became his own worst enemy. For instance, the last idea Weber proposes on the last page of his essay seems to be counterintuitive to his overarching thesis. He states, “It would also further be necessary to investigate how Protestant asceticism was in turn influenced in its development and its character by the totality of social condition, especially economic” (125). This phrase really dumbfounded me at first. If Capitalistic forces did indeed animate Protestant asceticism, would not his thesis be shattered? This line of inquiry begs the question of what actual influence did ‘the calling’ and Calvinism have over Protestant asceticism and its relationship with modern Capitalism. Surely, ‘the calling’ could have worked in tandem with Capitalism, but it is also possible that as various industrial movements occurred, religious groups adapted their beliefs in order to understand their economic purpose in …show more content…
It seems to run in opposition to conceptions of belonging to religious groups and the benefits that go along with that membership of that group such as religious salvation. I would love to hear the Calvinist sales pitch when trying to proselytize potential converts. When I think of the isolation in regards to Durkheim, it made me wonder just exactly how the collective consciousness is formed and maintained if being a part of the collective consciousness is persistent isolation and individual alienation. Weber describes the isolation of believing in the extreme form of Calvinist predestination specifically as “No one could help [the Calvinist]. No priest…No sacraments…No Church… [and] Finally, even no God. For even Christ died for the elect” (61). If the Calvinist personally felt isolated from all these factors (one’s neighbors, one’s spiritual leaders, one’s God) is that person a member of the collective consciousness? It is no surprise to me that Weber concluded that this form of predestination with its hierarchy of spiritual elect caused a “hatred and contempt for [one’s neighbor]”, sometimes leading to sectarianism (75). Of course, the collective consciousness is not determined (from what I could understand of Durkheim, although he really never discussed the emotional state of these indigenous tribes) by individuals’ collective sense of happiness or group

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