Thesis dedication page
Die protestantische Ethik und der ‘Thesis dedication page’ des Kapitalismus original cover.
Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. In 1998, the International Sociological Association listed this work as the thesis dedication page most important sociological book of the 20th century. It is the 8th most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950. Religious devotion, Weber argues, is usually accompanied by a rejection of worldly affairs, including the pursuit of wealth and possessions.
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Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Weber notes that this is not a philosophy of mere greed, but a statement laden with moral language. Indeed, Franklin claims that God revealed the usefulness of virtue to him. A common illustration is that of a cobbler, hunched over his work, who devotes his entire effort to the praise of God.
To emphasize the work ethic in Protestantism relative to Catholics, he notes a common problem that industrialists face when employing precapitalist laborers: Agricultural entrepreneurs will try to encourage time spent harvesting by offering a higher wage, with the expectation that laborers will see time spent working as more valuable and so engage it longer. It is particularly advantageous in technical occupations for workers to be extremely devoted to their craft. To view the craft as an end in itself, or as a «calling» would serve this need well. This attitude is well-noted in certain classes which have endured religious education, especially of a Pietist background. He defines the spirit of capitalism as the ideas and esprit that favour the rational pursuit of economic gain: «We shall nevertheless provisionally use the expression ‘spirit of capitalism’ for that attitude which, in the pursuit of a calling , strives systematically for profit for its own sake in the manner exemplified by Benjamin Franklin.
He further noted that the spirit of capitalism could be divorced from religion, and that those passionate capitalists of his era were either passionate against the Church or at least indifferent to it. Desire for profit with minimum effort and seeing work as a burden to be avoided, and doing no more than what was enough for modest life, were common attitudes. After defining the «spirit of capitalism,» Weber argues that there are many reasons to find its origins in the religious ideas of the Reformation. Weber shows that certain branches of Protestantism had supported worldly activities dedicated to economic gain, seeing them as endowed with moral and spiritual significance.
Weber traced the origins of the Protestant ethic to the Reformation, though he acknowledged some respect for secular everyday labor as early as the Middle Ages. The Roman Catholic Church assured salvation to individuals who accepted the church’s sacraments and submitted to the clerical authority. However, the Reformation had effectively removed such assurances. In the absence of such assurances from religious authority, Weber argued that Protestants began to look for other «signs» that they were saved. Calvin and his followers taught a doctrine of double predestination, in which from the beginning God chose some people for salvation and others for damnation.
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