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Hernes The Logic Of The Protestant Ethic Notes
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Gudmund Hernes - The Logic of The Protestant Ethic Introduction
● We should appreciate The Protestant Ethic both because of how it is pieced together logically and its dramatic construction Establishing the Case
● Weber shows that in countries of mixed religious composition, business leaders, skilled labour etc etc are predominantly Protestant
● He eliminates spurious relationships that could account for this by controlling for
○ differences in cultural development
○ inherited wealth predating the Reformation
○ position in the established order (i.e. rulers/ruled, minority/majority) The Smoking Gun
● What are the peculiarities of Protestant religions than might result in this data?
● Controls for
○ other-worldliness (so regardless of level of Protestant other-worldliness, they are economically successful, and regardless of Catholic other-worldliness, they are less so)
■ this demonstrates the differentiation between success of different Protestant denominations
○ ecological fallacy: at the individual level, there is a direct correlation between piety/asceticism and capitalist success
● So 'the source of capitalism is found in the ascetic branches of Protestantism' Rounding up the Usual Suspects
● The spirit of capitalism is an ethos, and consists in:
○ the earning of more and more money
■ this is irrational - money sought as an end rather than a means (really?)
■ Weber sees this as 'connected' to the religious idea of a calling
○ the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life
● What is the origin of this idea?
○ if we can identify its origin we have identified the origins of capitalism
■ 'Once capitalism is established, competition forces men to conform.'
○ is capitalism the origin of the spirit of capitalism? ('naive' historical materialism)
■ no because the spirit existed in Massachusetts before the system (terrible argument/research/claim)
■ also capitalism less developed in the Southern USA, despite having been formed by large capitalists for business purposes (what does this prove? how distinc are business motives from the 'spirit of capitalism'?)
■ no because greed also existed outside capitalism (including in particularly backward societies), so didn't have a unique effect
○ in finding the origin we must account for how traditionalism was overcome The Scene of the Crime
● Social theories make two types of assumptions
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