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The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: and Other Writings (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) Paperback – April 30, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140439218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140439212
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Baehr teaches in the department of politics and sociology at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.


Peter Baehr teaches in the department of politics and sociology at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.


Peter Baehr teaches in the department of politics and sociology at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.


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Customer Reviews

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Not an easy read, but worth it if you want to better appreciate what made this country great.
Peter
For a good place to start in exploring the works of this great scholar, "The Protestant Ethic and the 'Spirit' of Capitalism" would do nicely.
Augustus Caesar, Ph.D.
The book book for the serious reader and may be may not suit the sound-bite & quick popular remarks desire.
M. van Huystee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Lerdau on July 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This classic is more referred to than read by economists in Anglo-Saxon countries where Weber is considered mainly a sociologist. When I went to Graduate School (Wisconsin) it was not even mentioned. A pity, because it is a milestone in the search for explanations of historical events, in this case the extraordinary spread of capitalism in Protestant countries. One

may not buy Weber's thesis in part or in toto, but it is so carefully argued that dissent has to be very nuanced and scholarly to be persuasive. (An example of such creative dissent is Tawney's "Religion and the Rise of Capitalism").

This Edition contains a fairly good translation; its main weakness is the arrangement of notes (Editor's and Weber's) at the end of each chapter. Hard to find because tops of pages don't contain chapter titles. And the notes are an important part of the whole.

The book also contains several of Weber's rebuttals to some citicisms that he received. Since these critiques are not reprinted here, the rebuttals are not fully self-explanatory. Moreover, this section is not inspiring for another reason: the tone of academic petulance diminishes the image of a great scholar.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Christian Wetzel on March 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Weber's "Protestant Ethic" has here been published along with the author's responses to various reviews; and this is a good idea as it may be helpful in dispelling the misconceptions that arose from the "Weber thesis" and are still rampant. Weber primarily had to deal with interpretations of his work that took him to say that modern capitalism had its cause in the attitudes and working habits of certain minority groups, to wit the "Protestants" or "Puritans" of the early modern era. So it was Weber's primary aim in his "counter-reviews" to point out that he had made no such claim at all; in fact, he assumed that modern capitalism had its origin in various social, political und scientific developments of the West completely independent of Protestantism. In particular, he tried to refute two common prejudices: that modern capitalism arose from greed and avarice, or alternatively, from industriousness. The Chinese, as far as we can tell, throughout history had been as industrious and hard-working as any people in the West, but failed to develop modern capitalism.

What Weber's thesis was all about was a change of outlook of certain groups of people at the beginning of the modern era. He noted, that-largely as a result of religious beliefs and attitudes-some people rejected the age-old and still prevalent ideal of the "universal man" of sound erudition and refined taste, the "gentleman" ideal of the Renaissance, in favor of a completely different life goal, that of the "professional man". This reduction of all human interests to success in one's vocation, has-far from being the "cause" of modern capitalism-simply proved to be the optimal adaptation to the ecological niche created by it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By roji on April 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Those considering buying the Kindle edition, just be aware most Greek phrases are rubbish, and that links only work for the editor/translator notes, and not for Weber's own notes - so it is extremely tedious to consult the author's extensive and important comments.

This doesn't detract from the greatness of this text, and specifically the introduction and the included debates about The Protestant Ethic are a tremendous value. I just wish eBook quality was better.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bjorn Brekke on September 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is legendary. Max Weber arguably was the first social scientists who devoted his life's work to cross-cultural studies. His pioneering study of "The protestant ethic..." combines a broad, almost universal, vision of human desires and ideas with painstaking details of how certain religious movements transformed the economic basis of feudal Europe, and later the United States, into an economy of competition and free enterprise. The drive in early capitalism, Weber shows, was an inherent
religious belief in money as a means of eternal salvation. Trough accumulating more wealth, capitalists were trying to prove for themselves that they were worthy of God's grace and hence were secured an afterlife in Paradise. However, spending money was not an option for these capitalists. It was considered a sin to use capital gains to satisfy carnal and worldly desires ( compare with Enron and Worldcom executives). Wealth was in many ways protected by a fear of God.
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33 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Augustus Caesar, Ph.D. on January 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Max Weber (1864-1920) is usually considered (with Emile Durkheim) one of the founding fathers of modern sociology. Weber's interests in economics, law, bureaucracy, and religion led to some of the most scintillating writing ever produced in the social sciences, and his strenuous originality of thought, dense but lucid prose, and formidable analytical gifts invested his writings with lasting significance. For a good place to start in exploring the works of this great scholar, "The Protestant Ethic and the 'Spirit' of Capitalism" would do nicely.
This is one of the definitive texts in the history of sociology, and its power and resonance can be seen in the fact that it remains in print nearly a hundred years after it first appeared. In it, Weber traces the history and philosophical components of what he calls the "spirit of capitalism," which is the worldview, arising originally out of the Calvinist concept of "predestination," of the fulfillment of a worldly occupation (or "calling") as the appropriate task of pious men who were understandably worried about their fate in the afterlife.
Because Calvinism and later forms of protestant religious practice placed an emphasis on overcoming the anxiety induced by predestination, the methodical distraction of immersion in a worldly occupation evolved into a view of lawful financial toil and accumulation of capital as an ethical end in itself. With the eventual stripping away of the spiritual components of this idealism, we were left with the tradition of the following of a calling and the moral "goodness" of this worldly profession, the moral goodness, in other words, of economic participation and productivity.
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