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The last of our heroisms

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1 The last of our heroisms
Max Weber Sociology 100 The last of our heroisms

2 Max Weber Liberal Advisor to the post-WWI Confidential Committee on Constitutional reform Weimar Constitution Popularly elected president to counterbalance bureaucracy Article 48: Emergency decrees by President

3 Method Took Marx as a format for analysis Antipositivism
Accepts historical materialism Rejects monocausal understanding of history and society Means of production important, but more forms of production exist than the economic Violence Governance Cultural power Antipositivism Can’t understand society just by observation of empirical fact Comprehension requires an understanding of what people and organizations think that they are doing Verstehen: “Understanding meaningfully”, from the perspective of another Sociology not exclusively an empirical endeavor: humans not just products of the environments; they actively create meaning and organize the world through their interpretations and understandings of it To ignore this is to treat humans as things and to misinterpret society Thus, an emphasis on culture

4 Major Concerns Rationalization Disenchantment Charisma
The world increasingly operates on the principles of reason and efficiency Rational goals, rational means Increasing bureaucratization, power of bureaucracy Decreased space for human freedom Dehumanization Disenchantment “Demagification” Desacralization What binds humans together in a fully rationalized, fully disenchanted world? What does it then mean to be human? Charisma A quality that makes an individual seem divine or exemplary, making that individual an obvious leader

5 What is the relationship between religion and capitalism?
“Business leaders and owners of capital, as well as the skilled higher strata of the labor force, and especially the higher technical or commercially trained staff of modern enterprises tend to be predominantly Protestant.” (1) Not merely a question of history and inheritance Lower proportion of Catholics with same education as Protestants become involved with business and industry (4-5)

6 Denominations of Christianity
Catholicism Great Schism: 1054 Roman Catholic vs. Eastern Orthodox Protestantism Martin Luther, 95 theses, 1517 Sola scriptura, sola fide Distinct from fundamentalism, evangelism Pietism Huge number of sects Calvinists, Lutherans, Baptists, Anabaptists, Southern Baptists, Methodists, etc.

7 Not a Function of Bigotry
“The lower proportion of Catholics in modern business life is striking since it belies the usual experience of nation or religious minorities today. When excluded from politically influential positions by the dominant group (or when choosing to exclude themselves) these minority groups generally come under particular pressure to pursue a business career; in this way their most talented members seek to achieve the ambition that can find no fulfillment within the service of the state.” (4) A defiance of external incentives Protestants, even when & where a minority, were universally acknowledged to have a passion for business (note #10, p. 44) If not a question of inheritance or current incentives, “it follows that the reason for these differences in attitude must be sought principally in their distinct internal characteristics and not in the external historical and political situation of different denominations.” (4)

8 Elements of Faith “It would therefore be important to discover which elements of the internal characteristics of the denominations have had (and continue to have)” these effects. (4) Maybe it is because Protestants are worldly and materialistic, while Catholics are otherworldly and have an ascetic ideal? (4-5) This “may be an accurate, if incomplete, description of the motivation of the religiously indifferent section of Protestants in Germany at present.” “In the past, things were very different. It is a well-known fact that the very opposite of enjoyment of life characterized the English, Dutch, and American Puritans. Indeed, as we shall see, this represented one of their most significant features in terms of our investigation.” (5)

9 Elements of Faith “What is often forgotten is that the Reformation meant less the entire removal of ecclesiastical authority over life than the replacement of the previous form of authority by a different one. It meant, in fact, the replacement of an extremely relaxed, practically imperceptible, and scarcely more than formal authority by an infinitely burdensome and earnest regimentation of the conduct of life.” “What the reformers in the countries with the highest economic development disapproved of was not that there was too much but rather that there was too little ecclesiastical and religious control of life.” (2)

10 Elements of Faith “How is it that precisely these economical most developed countries, and, as we shall see, within them precisely the economically rising ‘bourgeois’ classes, which not only tolerated that Puritan tyranny but defended it with the sort of heroism that bourgeois classes as such have rarely before and never since exhibited—with what Carlyle, not without reason, calls ‘the last of our heroisms’?” (3)

11 Elements of Faith Perhaps Protestantism attracted both those introspective people and groups alienated from commerce and those religious alienated from the strictures of the faith? “This explanation ceases to convince when in the same persons and groups of people a virtuoso capitalist commercial sense coincides with the most intense forms of a piety which permeates and regulates the whole of life. Such cases are by no means isolated but are a characteristic feature of whole groups of the historically most important Protestant churches and sects. Calvinism in particular, wherever it has existed, has exhibited this combination.” (6)

12 Maybe Protestantism is just progressive in outlook?
“The old Protestantism of such men as Luther, Calvin, Knox, or Voët had little to do with what is today called ‘progress.’ It was directly hostile to whole aspects of modern life which today even the most extreme sectarian would not wish to do away with. So if an inner affinity between the old Protestant spirit and modern capitalist culture is to be found, we must try, for good or ill, to seek it not in its more or less materialistic or at least aniascetic enjoyment of life (as it is called) but in its purely religious features.” (7) Could material success of Protestants be ironically attributed to the unparalleled piety and asceticism of the early Protestants?

13 The Spirit of Capitalism
“What we understand by the ‘spirit’ of capitalism in terms of what we deem ‘essential’ from our point of view, is by no means the only possible way of understanding it. This is in the nature of ‘historical concept-formation,’ which for its methodological purposes does not seek to embody historical reality in abstract generic concepts but endeavors to integrate them into concrete configurations which are always and inevitably individual in character.” Not a “conceptual ‘definition’ but only a provisional illustration of what is here meant by the ‘spirit’ of capitalism.” (9) Ideal types & ideal typical analysis Not a philosophical definition, but an emphasis of certain characteristics common to most incidences of a thing or event “ideal” = ‘referring to ideas,’ ≠ ‘perfect’

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