LECTURE WEEK 4
1. Religious rejections of the world
2. The rise of rationalism
3. Bureaucracy and charisma
4. Science as a vocation
a. Science is the best way to live
Religious rejections of the world
• He didn’t want to just understand the source of capitalism but applying rational
decisions to that. A methodical way, systematic kind of thinking.
• The sociology of religion where he studied all of the world’s great religion
• He thought the ways of lifes practice on religion have deep aspects
• Why is it that some religions lead to that methodical thinking and others don’t?
• How does it let you act? In terms of education, sex life, health etc.
• He’s primarily interested in salvation religions
o Being saved. Redemption. Being saved from the world, which is thought
of as somehow corrupt, sinful. These religions offer visions of a better
world outside this world.
• This idea of a better religion, a better force. People feel like they don’t have to be
bound by the rules and conventions of society as it is and that they can change it.
• Salvation relgioins are out to transform spiritual life. your bonds of kinship are
some of the most potent forces. These religions can say that doesn’t matter, you
need to reject your family. They also have been transformative cuz they say your
neighbours aren’t the only people you owe your loyalty to and care for. Love thy
neighbor means more than just love the guy down the street. Youneed to have
compassion for all human beings. It means that your allegiances and obligations
don’t stop at your family, you owe people everywhere
• Salvation religion breaks you out of the world you’re born into.
• The ethic of brotherhood: all human beings should love all human beings
regardless where they come from. These types of religions deal with the world,
the world of business, politics.
• Active vs. passive religions and inner worldly and other worldly
• Active: looks at the corrupt sinful fallen depraved world, but we can do
something about it. you have to work. Convert people, make it better. Religious
crusaders try to bring the kingdom of god down to earth
• Inner worldly: if you believe that, you cant just isolate yourself. Get out and
become an activist, reform politics, business etc. Weber looks at Protestantism.
Calvinist puritan religion
• Passive/otherworldly: you’re not a tool of god; you’re a cup or vessel. There’s
nothing you can do about the world. Accept it and let it be. Don’t get out of the
world. Withdraw, meditate. Accept things as they are. • You can be activist /passive. Be active and change it or go to the hills and escape
• Think of these as the ideal type. What starts to happen as more and more people
begin to systematically live this way?
• Over time, it can change. It starts to become more purified and more people start
acting to that ideal type. The main thing that happens is that more and more, the
ethic of brotherliness comes into conflict and deep tension with the world. That
becomes more exacerbated because as people pursue this ethic, the religious ethic
more consistently, that means they purse the activities of the world according to
their own benefits. I want to make profit in my business. Keep ethics morality out.
Lets just think about politics, power. Lets not get friendship in the way. All of
these spheres in life begin to operate according to their own principles. As they do
that, conflicts heighten and differences sharpen.
Inner worldly Otherworldly
Active Active asceticism.
Puritan, you think
of yourself as a tool
• How is it that the deep and consistent systematic pursuit of religious and salvation
and brotherliness. How does that come into conflict?
• You’re supposed to treat people impersonally. Money has no face. Doesn’t matter
who you are or where you come from.
• Most importantly, if you’re a good businessperson, you treat everybody the same
way according to the principles of business. Its just business.
• That links to the idea of universal love.
• The ethic of brotherly love: love everybody
• The ethic of the economy: love nobody.
• For religions, there are two ways to live with that.
• How do you live with this unbrotherliness?
o You need to care about your own self. Care about the elected, saved
people. Work hard in your calling, you know the good people will rise to
the top. We know that there is impersonality and inequality. You don’t
need to trouble your soul. You need to compromise in the ethic of
o Mysticism: you can’t transform people. Why would you even want to?
You’re not interested in active intervention in the world. Release yourself
to whatever is happening. • Callings and mysticism are two ways to compromise religious life with economic
life. Love it and work hard or just drop out. These are rooted in a sociological
structure built into our relationships.
• One clear tension that leaders etc. have felt since salvation religion rose and that’s
because salvation religions conflict with political life bcuz salvation claims the
right to reorder the world from scratch. Higher template you are born into and
need to apply to the world. If you are a king, there’s a bunch of people that don’t
respect your authority cuz there’s a higher authority than you (God).
• Sources of tension in politics:
1. Impersonality: bureaucratic administration as the state expands. Treat people as
numbers, interchangeable parts. The goal is not to love you but to apply universal
standards to you. Its not personal, it’s politics. That spiritual relationship could
dissipate if the demands of politics require it. Antithetical to the idea of brotherly
2. Politics is about power: power implies hierarchy. People who command and
people who obey. And the ethic of brotherly love is about equality. On the one
hand is the state as a command structure with a military, people above and below
vs. all souls are equal in the eyes of God.
3. Violence: states use violence: they control the means of killing people. You
accept this institution that permeates violence. When states go to war, the religion
of brotherhood doesn’t see it is brother killing brother. There is inherently
something sinful about politics.
4. Realpolitik: just thinking about the interests of your country. Forget about
morality. If it is in our interest to maintain oil pipelines and make deals with bad
people with bad consequences, then let it be. Antithetical to a consistent to the
idea of brotherliness
5. Patriotism: the modern states claim the right to wage wars and that demands
sacrifice and commitment to the state. That creates powerful bonds and
connections and communities. You die for the state and you kill for it for other
states. That bond can rival the sense of community religion creates (all mankind is
one love). Your life has meaning from patriotism and religions don’t like that.
Your life gets meaning from politics.
• The reason why it can do that is because politics can consecrate death (make it
sacred, give meaning to). This is one of the most profound questions in life. What
gives your life meaning? What gives your death meaning? Religious salvation
claims to have the answer to that and that’s why people give it power. In war you
died for something, not dying for nothing. Religion and the state can do that. The
state can become an alternative type of religion, they become competition.
• Active asceticism: reconcile religion with politics: crusades. Lets use the state to
make it better. Lets go around the world make everything better. Religious
crusades intervene in the world and use violence to make things better. Once you
make that step, you reconcile politics with religion.
• Mysticism: turn the other cheek. You can’t hurt me because I am not of this world.
Art • Anti pleasure: Tensions between the world of arts and the world of religion.
Where does that come from? These salvation religions are anti pleasures cuz the
world is sinful corrupt offers temptation and the world of art is the world that says
pleasure is good. Let your senses feel these passions.
• Meaning vs. form: religion is about belief. It’s about your commitment. Style
doesn’t matter. Art says no, the form is more important than the substance. I can
take anything and make it beautiful. Weber was very moved by Charles
Baudelaire’s poetry (the flower of evil).
• Art for art’s sake: the process of purification for spheres develop (business is
just for business, politics for politics) art is for art. Art itself seems to provide an
escape from the meaninglessness of life (religion says we can give your life
meaning). We can make music and paintings that have nothing to do with religion.
Now you have a competition between art and religion.
• We have tensions built into our society based on the legacy of religion. One aspect
suspicious of art, other celebrates it. The bourgeois against the bohemian. The
square against the hipster.
• The idea that there’s a tension between universal brotherly love and salvations,
and our sexuality. This is not a tension built into all types of religions. Many pre
salvation religions had sex built into their contexts, divine kinds of sexuality part
of religion customs. Sexual ecstasy was holy. It