The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism
From Translator's introduction:
Max Weber's essay, Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus, which is here translated, was first pubHshed in the Archil für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik^ Volumes XX and XXI, for 1904-5.
It was reprinted in 1920 as the first study in the ambitious series Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, which was left unfinished by Weber's untimely death in that same year. For the new printing, he made considerable changes and appended both new material and replies to criticism in footnotes.
The translation has, however, been made directly from this last edition. Though the volume of footnotes is excessively large, so as to form a serious detriment to the reader's enjoyment, it has not seemed advisable either to omit any of them or to attempt to incorporate them into the text.
As it stands it shows most plainly how the problem has grown in Weber's own mind, and it would be a pity to destroy that for the sake of artistic perfection. A careful perusal of the notes is, however, especially recommended to the reader, since a great deal of important material is contained in them.
The fact that they are printed separately from the main text should not be allowed to hinder their use. The translation is, as far as is possible, faithful to the text, rather than attempting to achieve any more than ordinary, clear English style. Nothing has been altered, and only a few comments to clarify obscure points and to refer the reader to related parts of Weber's work have been added.
The Introduction, which is placed before the main R ix The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism essay, was written by Weber in 1920 for the whole series on the Sociology of Religion. It has been included in this translation because it gives some of the general backgrounds of ideas and problems into which Weber himself meant this particular study to fit.
That has seemed particularly desirable since, in the voluminous discussion w4iich has grown up in Germany around Weber's essay, a great deal of misplaced criticism has been due to the failure properly to appreciate the scope and limitations of the study. While it is impossible to appreciate that fully without a thorough study of Weber's sociological work as a whole, this brief introduction should suffice to prevent a great deal of misunderstanding. The series of which this essay forms a part was, as has been said, left unfinished at Weber's death. The first volume only had been prepared for the press by his own hand. Besides the parts translated here, it contains a short, closely related study, Die pro- testantischen Sekten und der Geist des Kapitalismus', a general introduction to the further studies of particular religions which as a whole he called Die Wirtschafts- ethik der Weltreligionen; and a long study of Confucian- ism and Taoism.
The second and third volumes, which were published after his death, without the thorough revision which he had contemplated, contain studies of Hinduism and Buddhism and Ancient Judaism. In addition, he had done work on other studies, notably of Islam, Early Christianity, and Talmudic Judaism, which were not yet in a condition fit for publication in any form. Nevertheless, enough of the whole series has been preserved to show something of the extra-
Translator's Preface ordinary breadth and depth of Weber's grasp of cultural problems. What is here presented to English- speaking readers is only a fragment, but it is a fragment which is in many ways of central significance for Weber's philosophy of history, as well as being of very great and very general interest for the thesis it advances to explain some of the most important aspects of modern culture.
Contents of the book:
PART I THE PROBLEM
I. Religious Affiliation and Social Stratification 35
II. The Spirit of Capitalism 47
III. Luther's Conception of the Calling. The task of the investigation 79
THE PRACTICAL ETHICS OF THE ASCETIC BRANCHES OF PROTESTANTISM
IV. The Religious Foundations of Worldly Asceticism 95
A. Calvinism 98
B. Pietism 128
C. Methodism 139
D. The Baptist Sects 144
V. Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism 155
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