Passage from Max Weber Jan 7, 2019 11:05:47 GMT
Post by Admin on Jan 7, 2019 11:05:47 GMT
Following is from Max Weber, Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus , in his Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, I. Band, Verlag von J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen, 1922:
Pages 203–04. As asceticism was transferred out of the cells of monks into our working life and began to dominate our worldly morality, it did its part in helping to build that mighty cosmos, the modern economic system, bound to the technical and economic requirements of mechanical, machine-mediated production, which today, with overwhelming force, determines the way of life not only of those who are directly engaged in economic work, but of all who are born into this mechanism, and perhaps will continue to determine it until the last hundredweight of fossil fuel has been burned up.
In the view of [the Puritan theologian Richard] Baxter, the concern with external possessions was to lie on the shoulders of his saints only as a thin cloak that could be cast off at any time. But a cruel fate made the cloak into a steel-hard casing. As asceticism undertook to reconstruct the world and produce its effects in the world, external possessions gained increasing and finally inescapable power over the human being as never before in history. Today the spirit of asceticism no longer exists within this casing—and perhaps will never be found within it again, who knows? In any case, victorious capitalism, now that it rests on a mechanical foundation, no longer needs the support of asceticism. Even the rosy mood of asceticism’s smiling heiress, the Enlightenment, seems to be fading away once and for all, and the concept of “professional duty” merely haunts our lives like the ghost of what was once religious faith.
Where “professional performance” cannot be related directly to the highest intellectual values of our culture, and on the other hand does not have to be felt simply as economic compulsion, the individual today refrains for the most part from trying to give it any meaning at all. The striving after material acquisition, divested of its religious and ethical significance, prevails in its most unbridled form in the United States, and there it tends to be associated with purely mundane passions, which not seldom give it virtually the character of a sport. 
No one yet knows who in the future will live within that casing, or whether at the end of this immense process of development entirely new prophets will arise, or whether there will be instead a mighty rebirth of old thoughts and ideals; or—if neither of these—then a mechanized fossilization dressed up in a kind of compulsive self-importance. Then, to be sure, for the “Last Men” of this process of cultural development, the saying may come true: “Technical experts without mind, hedonists without heart: these nonentities imagine themselves to have climbed to a level of humanity never before attained.” 
[1. “That’s the thing—accomplishment , playing the game.” John D. Rockefeller, quoted by Allan Nevins, Study in Power: John D. Rockefeller, Industrialist and Philanthropist, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1953; Vol. 1, page 19 (emphasis added).]
[2. Weber does not give the source of this quotation, but it may be from Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.]