The Protestant Ethic – the Neglected Centre-Point in the Work of Max Weber Cover Image
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Протестантската етика – пренебрегваният централен елемент в творчеството на Макс Вебер
The Protestant Ethic – the Neglected Centre-Point in the Work of Max Weber

Author(s): Peter Ghosh
Subject(s): Social Sciences, Sociology, Methodology and research technology, Social Theory, Social Norms / Social Control
Published by: Институт за изследвания на обществата и знанието при БАН
Keywords: Max Weber; Protestant Ethic; history; rationalism; rationality; ethics

Summary/Abstract: The aim of this paper is that stated in its title: to explain some of the reasons why Max Weber’s ‘Protestant Ethic’ should be seen a central component in his work and thought, and not, as is currently the case, a text which receives much lip-service but is substantially ignored. One chief reason for the text’s neglect (Section I) lies in Weber’s ostentatious use of historical materials which appear remote to social scientists today. It should however be understood that the ‘Protestant Ethic’ is a statement about modernity from beginning to end – Weber is only using the past to make a statement about the present – while the allegedly “historical” criticisms of the text made by sociologists have no foundation, because they are made in ignorance of Weber’s historicist premises. A principal component of Weber’s analysis of modernity is his interest in modern rationalism or rationality (Section II). Here it should be noted that while the ‘Protestant Ethic’ began as a statement about capitalism, it was then overlaid by a second, overlapping statement about rationality. This is extremely important, and we cannot understand Weber’s thinking on this subject by relying on later texts (such as ‘Economy and Society’) alone. Another major element of his modern thought, and one of the most neglected, is his thinking about ethics (Section III). Here – as its title suggests – the ‘Protestant Ethic’ is of unique importance. This paper draws on my book, Max Weber and the Protestant Ethic: Twin Histories (2014) but, especially in the first and third sections, goes beyond it, and constitutes an independent statement.

  • Issue Year: 47/2015
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 97-132
  • Page Count: 36
  • Language: Bulgarian