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Lecture 6

SOC231H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Ancient Greek Religion, Protestant Work Ethic, Instrumental And Value Rationality

by Maya

Course Code
Zaheer Baber

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Lecture 6
March, 1, 2016
I. Rationalization (Compare Marx’s concept “alienation”)
Attempt to replace ambiguity, the unexpected, multiple possibilities or the richness of
life, with calculated predictability
The bureaucratization of social life: proper rules, regulations, procedures, etc.
ID’s registration of births, deaths, addresses, names, etc.
Weber: “ This universal phenomenon more and more restricts the importance of charisma
and individually differentiated conduct
Rationalization of every sphere of life
Religion, law, politics, art, architecture, education, friendship, relationships, etc.
(Compare Marx and commodification)
Pre-fabricated, “Mcdonaldization” of life
Value rationalization: action framed by larger meaningful values; an end itself, not a
means to an end, no narrow cost/ benefit analysis (Mandela; Martin Luther King,
environmental activists, doctors who really want to heal etc.)
Formal rationality: means end calculation; narrow cost; benefit analysis; action, simply a
means to some other end (most professional politicians; a tree is nothing but wood for
furniture; doctor who only wants to make money etc.) (People who know the price of
everything, but their value of nothing)
Formal is more dominant now
Value rationality appears to be irrational but formal irrationality is irrational (examples:
the environmental movement, the Vietnam war, the debate over healthcare)
oIt doesn’t seem rational to just hang out of friends especially when you can spend
that time networking for useful friends
oThe minute you try to rationalize it, it becomes goal rational
Weber: specialists without spirits; the iron cage
oHe tries to slightly modify, supplement and compliment
Possible spheres that are not rationalized; the erotic and the aesthetic art spheres
Specific quality of the modern world; shaped by the struggle between value and formal
II. Religion, Rationality, and Capitalism
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Religious ideas in a particular material context, in precipitating modern capitalism
India, China, Europe
All have the material conditions necessary for capitalism’ other society do have some
forms of capitalism
But modern, industrial rational capitalism originates in Europe
Religion of India; China: infinite variety of gods, spirits, supernatural and forces, etc.
Europe: ancient Greek religion many gods, goddesses and spirits etc.
Monotheism: process of “rationalization”. Judaism, Christianity, Islam (Weber DOES
NOT this is superior or better; quite the contrary)
oReduces the richness, and the multiplicity of gods
Europe: Reformation in the 16th century
Catholicism>>> Protestantism
The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism
Calvinism: concept of predestination
Either elected or damned- predestined
oNothing you do can change your fate
oIn Christianity you can confess and restart
Psychological burden: Calvin”: no sign
Calvin’s followers: sign accumulation of wealth for God; intense, hard work to combat
Every hour lost is lost too labour for the glory of god
Puritans, Methodists etc.
Accumulation of wealth not for the sake of wealth, but for God: Value rationality
Martin Luther: concept of calling
Work is not just work , a means to some other end, but a higher calling, vocation
Thrift, frugality, ascetic life, no conspicuous consumption
oThey are not making money for themselves but for God, thus they do not enjoy
their wealth
Protestant ethic: did NOT CAUSE capitalism on its own
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