The Simon Wisenthal Center recently recognized. at its national tribute dinner in LA. Weber’s essay, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, is his most famous work. It is said that this work should not be seen as a detailed study of Protestantism, but as an introduction to Weber’s later works, especially his studies of the interaction between various religious ideologies and economic behavior.
In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber presents the thesis that the puritanical ethics and ideas influenced the development of capitalism. Religious devotion is usually accompanied by rejection of mundane affairs, including the rejection of the search for better economic position. Why is not this the case of Protestantism ‘Weber refers to this paradox.
Define the “spirit of capitalism” as the ideas and habits that promote the rational search for economic gain. Weber notes that this spirit does not exist only in Western culture, where we find this attitude in individuals and also to take into account that these individuals’ heroic entrepreneurs, as he calls them ‘could not, by themselves, establish a new economic order (capitalism). Among the trends identified by Weber were the ambitions of profits with minimum effort, the idea that work is a curse and a burden to be avoided, especially when the gains exceed what is necessary for a modest life. “For a way of life well adapted to the peculiarities of capitalism,” Weber wrote, “can overcome the other, must originate somewhere, and not just isolated individuals but as a way of life common to whole groups of people .
After defining the spirit of capitalism, Weber argues that there are many reasons to seek its origins in the religious ideas of the Reformation. Many other observers such as William Petty, Montesquieu, Henry Thomas Buckle, John Keats, have also commented on the affinity between Protestantism and the development of the commercial spirit.
Weber showed that certain types of Protestantism favored the rational search of economic gain and worldly activities which had a positive moral and spiritual meaning. It was not the aim of those religious ideas, but rather a product – the inherent logic of those doctrines and the advice derived directly or indirectly encouraged planning and self-denial of the pursuit of financial gain.
Weber said that the reason for the abandonment of their research on Protestants was that his colleague Ernst Troeltsch, a professional theologian, had begun work on the book The social teachings of Christian churches and sects. Another cause of Weber’s decision was that the test provided a broad perspective to the comparison between religion and society, which continued in his later works.
The phrase “ethics at work”, used in current feedback is derived from the “Protestant ethic” discussed by Weber. Was adopted when the idea of the Protestant ethic was generalized to adapt to the Japanese, Jews and other non-Christians.
- The Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam: Negotiating Ideology and Religious Inquiry (Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks) by Omid Safi (Paperback – Jan 18, 2006)
- Jewish Fundamentalism in Comparative Perspective: Religion, Ideology, and the Crisis of Morality (New Perspectives on Jewish Studies) by Laurence Silberstein (Paperback – Feb 1, 1993)
- Messianic Judaism: A Rabbi’s Journey Through Religious Change in America by Carol Harris-Shapiro (Paperback – Aug 4, 2000)