LECTURE WEEK 3
1. The spirit of capitalism
2. Protestant ethic
a. Protestant Ethic +Spirit of capitalism
3. Religious rejection of the world and their directions
The spirit of capitalism rather than capitalism itself? The meaning of it. Life orientation
behind it. This is his whole orientation, the focus on meaning. Even trying to make
money in the capitalist system. Be an example to the good way to live
• Martin Luther, john Calvin. 17 century.
• Every individual can have access to God. You alone thru your faith and your inner
conviction. Don’t need a priest
• That was revolutionary because it’s changed the whole relationship with God.
• An idea about what faith is, salvation is.
• Weber is interested in the protestant ethic. A way of life, a practice.
• He’s looking at how these new ideas came to being and how people live them out
in a serious way. What kinda life do you end up leading?
• This life paved the way to the spirit of capitalism that has come to dominate the
1. What is it? What is the spirit of capitalism?
2. Why care?
3. Where did it come from?
4. Sources of rationality and rationalism.
The spirit of capitalism
• Interpretative approach. Wants to get in the mindset.
• Selections from the autobiography of Benjamin franklin.
• If you’re out partying the predator wants to get paid.
• Key feature: industriousness, hard work is a moral duty.
• Franklin is stressing being credit worth and duty to increase your wealth and not
being credit worthy is foolish and a violation of your moral duty.
• He says don’t be idle, don’t waste time, don’t do stupid activities like hang out at
the pool, bar. Make sure everyone around you knows you’re a productive member
of society. Do they hear your hammer at 5 in the morning?
• Weber: this attitude is new. This is not how most socieites and most cultures have
thought about work.
• He makes a distinction between modern vs adventure capitalism
o Adventure: been around thru entire history. Greed, taking risk, throwing
the dice. The wolf of Wall Street. Those are usually single acts, take the big gamble. They’re not ethically sanctioned. These are not good people,
not something in mass scale, there is only 1 wolf. Not everyone can do
that. Been around, will always be around
o Modern: not just about rich people and big business. You have massive
society, everyday normal people working day in day out, doing things in a
methodically systematic rational way. Not thru hitting the lottery but
through systematically implementing your plan. That’s the core of modern
capitalism, systematic rigorous ready pursuit. Weber was interested in
where that came from. How did it spread?
• You can’t enjoy your money, that would be a sign of decadence Franklin
• Marxian: this belief doesn’t matter at all, being a good persona and working hard
all day. That’s the surface, not the real course of history. Rich people may say that.
What drives capitalism is the owners oppressing proletariat. Of everything is
about materialism and profit, its becuz ppl are rich and want to get richer.
Where did it come from?
• Page 79 and 80: ideal vs. material causes in history.
• Is capitalism the victory of the rich? Or do they have ideals driving them? Weber
says ideas are important.
• Modern capitalism did not emerge among the rich. Poor people with little profit
who were the first people to work in this methodic rationalized way. Small towns
in America who had nothing. Did not come from a rich European background.
MC was historically bad, not the elites of the world that worked, it was the
downtrodden. The good thing in life was that if you had to work, you did it to stop
working so you can enjoy the fruits of life. Make other people work for you, retire
early. However, capitalism means that you keep working, you don’t stop.
• The ethic of capitalism didn’t just depend on the material condition but the
spiritual one too WEBER.
• Where do these ideas come from? Its not just the material wealth, its more than
• Page 80, 81: rationalism. Stressing the methodic systematic aspect of modern
• The capitalist idea is tied to the rationalization of economic activity. What does
o Apply scientific principles to production. Don’t just follow customs or
traditions. How can you generate more money and get most out of
farming? Build mechanical tractor. Innovation and improvisation. Apply
scientific thinking to heighten the efficiency to everything you’re doing.
o Another aspect: the economy becomes much more quantitative i.e. book
keeping. It’s a relatively new invention. You write down every transaction.
• Where does rationalism come from? Where does the idea that you should apply
scientific thinking? Keeping records in everything you do? Dieting, keeping logs
of your activities, hiring a workday consultant? Systematic application to reason
to everyday life? • It comes from religion. Not just any religion, from Protestantism. 16 century.
o The rise of this new religious movement that led to people accepting
rationalism and the spirit of capitalism.
o In what ways can our modern economic order be linked to religion?
1. What is it?
2. What does it say about work money and wealth?
3. How does it lead to the spirit of capitalism?
• He was particularly interested in puritan and Calvinist Protestantism.
• Predestination: Calvinists. God selected a fixed number of souls to be saved and
you are born with that or not. Weber thought that that doctrine was very imp that
lead to psychological consequences to people that believed it. Living with that
challenge created a certain way of life (you either are one of Gods people or you
• The features it created:
o Asceticism: Selfdenial. Denying yourself of pleasures. Control your
body, endure suffering, fast, and don’t eat. What kinda of pleasures do
they allow themselves? Very limited. Even in marriage, sex is not for
pleasure, just for making babies. Sports are bad. Cant engage in the
pleasure of the flesh. These pleasures are only good to means of valuable
endeavors, procreation work. Monks do this. the protestant believe adopts
this way for a reason:
o How they think about the state of grace: important in this picture of
God. In this system, some people are the saints above, not moved by alllll
of the pleasures of the flesh in the simple world that most people are
dominated by. They are pure spirits. They’re in the world, they are going
to die but are destined to be in heaven, to live in a better world. They are
angels walking amongst us. The elect. How do you know if you are one?
o Testify to beli