Max Weber

June 25, 2018 Sociology

The Protestant Ethic and Essays in Sociology, both written by Max Weber, illustrate Weber’s observations of connections between Protestants, involved mainly in business, and Calvinists, who played a major role in the Capitalist spirits. Weber describes Calvinism as “the faith over which the great political and cultural struggles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were fought in the most highly developed countries” (Weber, 56). Calvinists have a doctrine of predestination, which is based on God’s, predestine concerning humans and whether or not they shall be saved.

Weber argues that Calvinism is the most rational religion—this, he maintains, is because they are privately steady. However, because the Puritans had the desire to work due to their calling, this forced other individuals to do so as well. Due to the Protestant callings, asceticism developed “tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order” (Weber, 121). Analyzing Weber’s observation shows the reader how Calvinism is so essential in Capitalism. This is believed because it is the will of god. People even today devote their lives determined by this method, which shows how much this belief has carried on.

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However, based on this belief, at times people become blinded by the goods that benefit them and really forget or ignore the true value of life. Seeing the work force start from individual’s callings ended up giving the economy more power ruling its people. The purpose in working in order to fulfill God’s requirements becomes forgotten and forces individuals to work in order to survive. This is scary for the modern society and yet in today’s society is a norm. Although the spirit of religious asceticism has faded away, it does not affect capitalism because it is no longer necessary.

In other words, Weber’s argument is based on his observations, which he explains by historical circumstances, including richer districts being supervised to adapt to Protestantism. Weber famously characterizes economic rationalism as “a shell as hard as steel from which the spirit has fled” (Protestant Ethic, p. 121). In other words, Weber suggests that even stability such as economic rationalization has faded away due to the calling, and that this loss has taken place because of the domination of the “Calling.

” His suggestion, or rather, warning, for our modern society is that this belief system may continue to carry on and affect the true value of life. Rationalization is defined as “an intellectual imposition of coherent and ordered set of ideas upon the world. ” Weber emphasizes rationalism in different ways, and explains how rationalism for one can cover a variety of different ideals, which makes it a historical concept. In addition, Weber believes rationalism becomes unevenly disbursed in different parts of a society while law can be very rational in a society.

An example of rationalization Weber believes is Calvinism. This is believed because the Protestant work ethic naturally comes to an individual, which is vital for man’s personal salvation. This is the idea of the calling that comes from Calvinists that have a Protestant theological system, and has influenced Christian ideals. In other words, the Puritan ethic was to work hard and make great profits. Seeking for signs of their own redemption, the concept of the calling for the ascetic Protestants were to look for signs in worldly achievements.

However, being greedy and spending money on insignificant items like luxuries was considered disrespectful to God, which made them pour any profits made back to their callings. These values are all strictly connected to the capitalistic ethic, and Weber eloquently sketches out the foundations of these values. Weber contends that capitalism developed based on this ethic, and that this development no longer necessitates the values to maintain itself. In other words, because of the ignorance of asceticism, the importance of values and virtues has disappeared.

Instead has developed the force to work to survive. For instance, Weber explains, “Where capitalism is at its most unbridled, in the United States, the pursuit of wealth, divested of its metaphysical significance, today tends to be associated with purely elemental passions, which at times virtually turns into a sporting contest. ” This shows that even stability such as economic rationalization still does not have its guarantee because it fades away. Even today, many people become blinded of what is morally important and become addicted to the wealth.

A capitalistic condition is a system with rules that must be followed. For example, “Economic acquisition is no longer subordinated to man as the means for the satisfaction of his material needs. This reversal of what we should call the natural relationship, so irrational from a naive point of view, is evidently as definitely a leading principle of capitalism as it is foreign to all peoples not under capitalistic influence” (Weber, 18). This illustrates that having money makes man vitreous. For instance, Weber writes, “time is money” (Weber, 14).

In other words, the Puritan’s desire was to labor, which was their calling and they believed doing something else was a waste of God’s time. Looking at individuals for whom salvation was not important, the workforce dominated the entire aspect of their morality. Weber’s argument is that regardless, individuals are forced to work. Also, looking at the norms of its economic activities showed how it will be forced on us because individuals in our society are so caught up with the “market. ” For example, “No one yet knows who will live in that shell in the future” (Weber, 121).

The consequence of this, even to the factory owners who commonly disobeyed these norms, is that they will be banned as the worker who cannot adapt to the market, which will throw him out of work. Having the calling domination basic idea led to greed. As people began to see the success of money and saw the value of it there was nothing else that seemed more important. Today, although not many people abide by Calvinism, we still see the affect that money has in the world and how some individuals or even our society has become blinded by it. Weber mentions and warns that this would have a dramatic affect for the modern societies as well.

What is most beneficial of Weber’s observations is his concerns for the modern society. He makes many points showing how people are trapped in the workforce of bigger institutions, and how this becomes so valuable to individuals that it defines their lives. At this point, people become blinded by the material goods and the power they have over men. Theological efficiency is defined as “the comparison of what is actually produced or performed with what can be achieved with the same consumption of resources (money, time, labor, etc. )” (Dictionary, Def. 1). This creates greed because individuals begin to want more and more.

As an example, Weber writes, “today however, we have to say that a state is a human community that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory” (Weber 78). Physical force was even acceptable due to the value of money. “What in the former case was an expression of commercial daring and personal inclination morally neutral, in the latter takes on the character of an ethically coulored maxim for the conduct of life” (Weber, 17). Even today, often the value of family or even religion is forgotten because individuals in our society follow the basic concept and belief that having money is being successful.

Looking at the viewpoints of Max Weber really shows how much individuals forget the true value of life. As a religion, Calvinists were successful in developing a workforce in order to satisfy their duties of their calling. However, developing the idea dominated and changed the meaning of life. Individuals began to get sucked in the labor force in order to live and survive. Seeing Calvinism develop and individuals trying to fulfill their duties in their calling really began to take control. Basing success on money shows how people tend to forget what they are truly there for in the first pace.

Furthermore, Capitalism grew it no longer needed aid in any way because at this point the society has no other choice but to abide by it in order to survive. Big institutions began to define people’s lives. Value plays a big role in an individual’s belief, such as religion. Weber argued the separation of reason, that each has its place in its field but if it crosses over it will not work. Looking at Weber’s point and seeing his arguments about the modern society and comparing it today, its upsetting seeing more and more people spend more time at work than with their families, forgetting the true values of life.


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