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30+ quotes from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber

Quotes from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Max Weber ·  320 pages

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“specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“It is true that the path of human destiny cannot but appal him who surveys a section of it. But he will do well to keep his small personal commentarie to himself, as one does at the sight of the sea or of majestic mountains, unless he knows himself to be called and gifted to give them expression in artistic or prophetic form. In most other cases, the voluminous talk about intuition does nothing but conceal a lack of perspective toward the object, which merits the same judgement as a similar lack of perspective toward men.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Calvinist believers were psychologically isolated. Their distance from God could only be precariously bridged, and their inner tensions only partially relieved, by unstinting, purposeful labor.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“The purely emotional form of Pietism is, as Ritschl has pointed out, a religious dilettantism for the leisure class.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“The process of sanctifying life could thus almost take on the character of a business enterprise. ”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Low wages fail even from a purely business point of view wherever it is a question of producing goods which require any sort of skilled labour, or the use of expensive machinery which is easily damaged, or in general wherever any great amount of sharp attention or of initiative is required. Here low wages do not pay, and their effect is the opposite of what was intended. For not only is a developed sense of responsibility absolutely indispensable, but in general also an attitude which, at least during working hours, is freed from continual calculations of how the customary wage may be earned with a maximum of comfort and a minimum of exertion. Labour must, on the contrary, be performed as if it were an absolute end in itself, a calling. But such an attitude is by no means a product of nature. It cannot be evoked by low wages or high ones alone, but can only be the product of a long and arduous process of education.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“The ability of mental concentration, as well as the absolutely essential feeling of obligation  to one’s job, are here most often combined with a strict economy which calculates the possibility of high earnings, and a cool self-control and frugality which enormously increase performance.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“In Baxter’s view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the “saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment”.114 But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Remember, that money is of the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“spirit of capitalism is best understood as part of the development of rationalism as a whole,”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“For bourgeois classes as such have seldom before and never since displayed heroism. It was “the last of our heroisms”, as Carlyle, not without reason, has said. ”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Its entry on the scene was not generally peaceful. A flood of mistrust, sometimes of hatred, above all of moral indignation, regularly opposed itself to the first innovator.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“The capitalistic economy of the present day is an immense cosmos into which the individual is born, and which presents itself to him, at least as an individual, as an unalterable order of things in which he must live. It forces the individual, in so far as he is involved in the system of market relationships, to conform to capitalistic rules of action, The manufacturer who in the long run acts counter to these norms, will just as inevitably be eliminated from the economic scene as the worker who cannot or will not adapt himself to them will be thrown into the streets without a job.

Thus the capitalism of to-day, which has come to dominate economic life, educates and selects the economic subjects which it needs through a process of economic survival of the fittest. But here one can easily see the limits of the concept of selection as a means of historical explanation. In order that a manner of life so well adapted to the peculiarities of capitalism could be selected at all, i.e. should come to dominate others, it had to originate somewhere, and not in isolated individuals alone, but as a way of life common to whole groups of men. This origin is what really needs explanation.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“That in East Prussia Frederick William I tolerated the Mennonites as indispensable to industry,”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“After industry and frugality, nothing contributes more to the raising of a young man in the world than punctuality and justice in all his dealings;”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“One may attain salvation in any walk of life; on”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“In practice this means that God helps those who help themselves . Thus”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Calvinism, in comparison, appears to be more closely related to the hard legalism and the active enterprise of bourgeois-capitalistic entrepreneurs. Finally,”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Weber’s achievement was not to definitively answer a riddle but to stake out a territory fertile of new puzzles at the heart of which is the claim that religious forces, not simply economic ones, paved the way for the mentality characteristic of modern, Western capitalism.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Impulsive enjoyment of life, which leads away both from work in a calling and from religion, was as such the enemy of rational asceticism, whether in the form of seigneurial sports, or the enjoyment of the dance-hall or the public—house of the common man. ”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“He must be stilled in order to create that deep repose of the soul in which alone the word of God can be heard. Of”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“In fact, one may—this simple proposition, which is often forgotten should be placed at the beginning of every study which essays to deal with rationalism—rationalize life from fundamentally different basic points of view and in very different directions. Rationalism is an historical concept which covers a whole world of different things. It will be our task to find out whose intellectual child the particular concrete form of rational thought was, from which the idea of a calling and the devotion to labour in the calling has grown, which is, as we have seen, so irrational from the standpoint of purely eudæmonistic self-interest, but which has been and still is one of the most characteristic elements of our capitalistic culture.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“The idea that modern labour has an ascetic character is of course not new. Limitation to specialized work, with a renunciation of the Faustian universality of man which it involves, is a condition of any valuable work in the modern world; hence deeds and renunciation inevitably condition each other to-day. This fundamentally ascetic trait of middle-class life, if it attempts to be a way of life at all, and not simply the absence of any, was what Goethe wanted to teach, at the height of his wisdom, in the Wanderjahren, and in the end which he gave to the life of his Faust. For him the realization meant a renunciation, a departure from an age of full and beautiful humanity, which can no more be repeated in the course of our cultural development than can the flower of the Athenian culture of antiquity.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings” (Prov. xxii. 29).”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“To-day the spirit of religious asceticism—whether finally, who knows?—has escaped from the cage. But victorious capitalism, since it rests on mechanical foundations, needs its support no longer. The rosy blush of its laughing heir, the Enlightenment, seems also to be irretrievably fading, and the idea of duty in one’s calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs. Where the fulfillment of the calling cannot directly be related to the highest spiritual and cultural values, or when, on the other hand, it need not be felt simply as economic compulsion, the individual generally abandons the attempt to justify it at all. In the field of its highest development, in the United States, the pursuit of wealth, stripped of its religious and ethical meaning, tends to become associated with purely mundane passions, which often actually give it the character of sport.

No one knows who will live in this cage in the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great rebirth of old ideas and ideals, or, if neither, mechanized petrification, embellished with a sort of convulsive self-importance. For of the last stage of this cultural development, it might well be truly said: “Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“The earning of money within the modern economic order is, so long as it is done legally, the result and the expression of virtue and proficiency in a calling; and this virtue and proficiency are, as it is now not difficult to see,”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“Wesley’s anti-Calvinistic faction within the movement with its doctrine that grace could be lost. The”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“A number of those sections of the old Empire which were most highly developed economically and most favored by natural resources and situation, in particular a majority of the wealthy towns went over to Protestantism in the sixteenth century The results of that circumstance favor the Protestants even today in their strug gle for economic existence.”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


“The radical elimination of magic from the world allowed no other psychological course than the practice of worldly asceticism. Since”
― Max Weber, quote from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


About the author

Max Weber
Born place: in Erfurt, Germany
Born date April 21, 1864
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