Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism

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In “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” Max Weber sought to explain the spirit of capitalism through Protestantism. Max Weber argues that Protestant ethics, ideas and virtues that arose out of the Reformation contributed to the emergence and evolution of modern capitalism. The “Protestant Ethic” is ascetic, characterized as “the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence”, a rejection of worldly affairs, including the pursuit of wealth and possessions (Oxford Reference, 2006). Out of Protestantism originates the concept of a “calling,” which gives worldly activity and a religious character, and creates a sense of comfort of alleviation for believers (Weber, 1905/2008, p. 84). Weber establishes Calvinism, a branch of Protestantism, as another factor contributing to the spirit of capitalism. Many faiths based in Christianity, including Calvinism, establish a belief in predestination; that all individuals, from birth, are determined by God for either salvation or condemnation. In an attempt to explain their place in the world and in the afterlife, Calvinists equated economic success as a sign of salvation—profit and material success as signs of God’s approval. The protestant ethic, summum bonum (the highest good/ultimate goal), is “the earning of more and more money, combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life” (Weber, 1905/2008, p. 84). This economic acquisition dominates over an individual as the

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