Essay on The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism

1190 Words Nov 23rd, 2016 5 Pages
In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber discusses the history and development of Western capitalism. Moreover, Weber discusses the emergence of an ethos and way of life he calls “the spirit of capitalism.” In this essay, I will present a summary of Weber’s discussion on the spirit of capitalism, comparing the latter to traditional forms of capitalism that preceded it. Additionally, I will evaluate the current mindset toward capitalism and compare it to the ethos of the spirit of capitalism described by Weber.

Weber described the emergence of a mindset and lifestyle he refers to as “the spirit of capitalism.” His argument was not that capitalism emerged at the time of his writing, but rather that there was a fundamental shift in capitalistic ideologies. Weber argued that there was something unique about the “spirit of capitalism” that developed in Europe following the Protestant Reformation. It is this “spirit” that separated traditional capitalism from modern capitalism, for Weber. Put simply, the “spirit of capitalism” can be summarized as an, “attitude which seeks profit rationally and systematically” (Weber, 1930/1992, p. 27). However, this is an oversimplification. What Weber saw as unique to Protestantism, namely the Calvinist denominations, was not just that Calvinists sought wealth more purposefully than Catholics, but that they showed “a special tendency to develop economic rationalism” (Weber, 1930/1992, p. 7). That is, Calvinists…

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