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Max Weber on Protestant Ethics - Dictionary of Arguments

Habermas III 299
Protestant Ethics/Weber/Habermas: in traditional society, the cognitive potential created by the rationalized worldviews within which the disenchantment process takes place cannot yet become effective. It is only delivered in modern societies. This process means the modernisation of society. (1)
Habermas III 307
Profession/Protestantism/Weber: modern professional culture is precisely that implementation of ethics of conviction that ensures motivationally the procedural rationality of entrepreneurial action in a way that has consequences for the capitalist enterprise.
Habermas III 308
Weber does not want to explain why the Catholic inhibitions against commercial profit-seeking have fallen, but what made the conversion possible. He discovered the corresponding teachings in Calvinism and around the Protestant sects. In religious community life he finds the institutions that ensured the socializing effectiveness of the teachings in the supporting layers of early capitalism. (2)
Habermas III 310
Profession/Weber/Habermas: professional work as a whole is ethically charged and dramatised. The sphere of the profession is released from traditional morality and becomes the sphere of procedural professional probation. This is connected with an ethics of conviction limited to individual graces, which eliminates the Catholic coexistence of monk, priest and lay ethics in favour of an elitist separation between virtuoso and mass religiosity.
Consequences are the inner loneliness of the individual and the understanding of one's neighbor as another neutralized in strategic contexts of action. (3)
Habermas III 311
Protestant ethics/Schluchter: the ethics of ascetic Protestantism puts the relationship of the individual to God above his relationships to people and gives these relationships a new meaning: they are no longer interpreted in piety terms. (4)
Habermas: even the objectification of these relationships destroys the basis of legitimacy of piety. It degrades all traditional norms to mere conventions. However, this does not require the special objectification required for capitalist economic transactions and which allows segmentation of a legally organized area of strategic action.
HabermasVsWeber: he denies such a possibility of development.
Habermas III 312
This is because of the structural incompatibility of any consistently ethicized religion of redemption with the impersonal orders of a rationalized economy and objective politics.


1.Vgl. H.V. Gumbrecht, R. Reichardt, Th. Schleich (Hrg), Sozialgeschichte der Französischen Aufklärung, 2 Bde, München, 1981
2. M. Weber, Die protestantische Ethik, hrsg. v. J. Winckelmann, Bd 2, Hamburg 1972, p. 232.
3. Schluchter, Die Entwicklung des okzidentalen Rationalismus, Tübingen 1979, p. 250f.
4. Schluchter ibid p. 251.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Weber I
M. Weber
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism - engl. trnsl. 1930
German Edition:
Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus München 2013

Ha I
J. Habermas
Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne Frankfurt 1988

Ha III
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. I Frankfurt/M. 1981

Ha IV
Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. II Frankfurt/M. 1981


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