This is a general summary of:
Definitions of Sociology and Social action:
Sociology is a science which attempts the interpretive understanding of social action to arrive at a casual explanation of its course and effects. Sociology seeks to formulate type concepts and generalized uniformities of empirical processes. (History, on the other hand, is interested in the causal analysis of particular events, actions or personalities.)
Action is human behavior to which the acting individual attaches subjective meaning. It can be overt or inward and subjective. Action is social when, by virtue of the subjective meaning attached to it by the acting individual(s), it takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby guided. Social action may be oriented to past, present, or predicted future behavior of others. Others may be concrete people or indefinite pluralities.
Not all action is social: if it ain't oriented to the behavior of others, it ain't social. Also, it is not merely action participated in by a bunch of people (crowd action) or action influenced by or imitative of others. Action can be causally determined by the behavior of others, while still not necessarily being meaningfully determined by the action of others. If I do what you do because it's fashionable, or traditional, or leads to social distinction, its meaningful. Obviously the lines are blurred (pp 113-114), but it's important to make a conceptional distinction.
Modes of Orientation of social action:
Uniformity of social action = action which is wide-spread, frequently repeated by the same individual or simultaneously performed by many individuals and which corresponds to a subjective meaning attributable to the same actors.
Usage: probability of a uniformity in the orientation of social action, when the probability is determined by its actual practice ('it is done to conform with the pattern).
Custom: usage when the actual performance of the action rests on long familiarity. Non- conformance is sanctioned externally.
Action can also be uniform if the actor acts in his self-interests. The uniformity rests insofar as behavior is determined by purely rational actions of actors to similar ulterior expectations.
Types of Social Action, identified by mode of orientation:
1) rational orientation to a system of discrete individual ends. individuals
can choose and adjudicate between both means and ends, though these
considerations may be with reference to other absolute values.
THE METHODOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIOLOGY
There are 2 kinds of meaning: 1) actually existing meaning in a given concrete case of a particular actor, or average or approximate meaning attributed to a given number of actors; and 2) theoretically conceived pure types of subjective meaning attributed to hypothetical actor(s) in a given type of action (like an ideal type).
The line between meaningful action and reactive behavior w/o subjective meaning is blurry.
The basis for understanding meaning may be either rational (logical or mathematical -- clear intellectual grasp of things) or emotionally empathetic or artistically appreciative (though sympathetic participation we grasp the emotional context in which the action took place).
For purposes of ideal type analysis, it's convenient to treat irrational (from the point of view of rational pursuit of a given end) action as deviation from a conceptually pure type of rational action. We compare this analytically clear type to empirical reality, and that increases our understanding of how actually action is influences by irrational factors. The more sharp and precise the ideal type (and thus the more abstract and unrealistic) the more useful it is in clarifying terminology and formulating classifications and hypotheses.
Some phenomena are devoid of subjective meaning. What is intelligible about an object is its relation to human action in its role either of means or of end, a relation which actors can be said to be aware of and to which their action has been oriented. If you can't make this relation (for example a hindering or favorable circumstance) it's not meaningful in the sense we care about.
There are 2 kinds of understanding: 1) direct observational understanding of subjective mean of a given act (eg, if i start to shout at you, you could directly observe my irrational emotional reaction by virtue of my shouting). 2) explanatory understanding: we understand motive, or, what makes an individual do a particular thing in a particular circumstance. Since we are interested in the subjective meaning of action, we must place an action in the complex of meaning in which it took place.
A motive is a complex of subjective meaning which seems to the actor and/OR the observer an adequate ground for the conduct in question.
In most cases, actual action goes on in a state of inarticulate half-consciousness or actually unconsciousness of its subjective meaning. The ideal type case of meaning is where meaning is fully conscious and explicit: this rarely happens in reality.
Adequacy on the level of meaning: a subjective interpretation of a coherent course of conduct when its component parts in their mutual relation are recognized as a 'typical' complex of meaning. Eg, according to our current norms of calculation and thinking, the correct solution to an arithmatical problem.
Casual adequacy: there's a probability it will always actually occur in the same way. Eg, statistical probability, according to verified generalization from experience, that there would be a correct or incorrect solution to the arithmatical problem. Depends on being able to determine that there's a probability a will follow b.
Subjectively understandable action exists ONLY as the behavior of one or more individual human beings. States, for instance, are results of particular acts of individual persons. There is no such things as a collective personality that acts. These concepts of collective entities DO HAVE meanings in the minds of individual persons, and so actors orient their actions to them as if they existed or should exist.
Functional analysis is a good starting point for sociology. We need to know what kinds of action is functionally necessary for survival, and also for the maintenance of a cultural type and the corresponding modes of social action. We are interested, though, in the subjective meaning of actions to component individuals. The interesting question, then, is what motives determine and lead the individual members and participants in this situation to behave in such a way that the situation came into being in the first place.
THE CONCEPT OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP
Social relationship: the behavior of actors in so far as, in its meaningful content, the action of each takes account of the others and is oriented to the behavior of others. Mere group membership is not sufficient. The relation of the actors may be solidary, or the opposite. Eg, a 'state' ceases to exist when there is no longer a probability that certain kinds of meaningfully oriented social action will take place.
The subjective meaning need not be the same for all parties to the relationship. The relationship may be temporary or long term. Its subjective meaning may change over time.
The Concept of Legitimate Order
Types of Legitimate Order
Legitimacy of an order can be upheld in 2 ways:
Convention: system of order where infraction meets with sanctions of disapproval and orders are considered binding.
Law: system of order where the above is enforced by a functionally specialized agency (e.g., the police).
A system of order with external sanctions may also be guaranteed by disinterested subjective attitudes. Eg, it can be both morally wrong and illegal to murder.
Bases of Legitimacy
Legitimacy may be ascribed to an order by those subject to it in the
Submission to an order is almost always determined by a variety of motives.
MAX WEBER Class, Status, Party
All communities are arranged in a manner that goods, tangible and intangible, symbolic and material are distributed. Such a distribution is always unequal and necessarily involves power. ''Classes, status groups and parties are phenomena of the distribution of power within a community'' (927). Status groups makes up the social order, classes the economic order, and parties the legal/political order. Each order affects and is affected by the other.
Power is the ''chance of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a social action even against the resistance of others who are participating in the action'' (926).
Power may rest of a variety of bases, and can be of differing types. ''Economically conditioned power is not identical with power... The emergence of economic power may be the consequence of power existing on other grounds. Man does not strive for power only to enrich himself economically. Power, including economic power, may be valued for its own sake. Very frequently the striving for power is conditioned by the social honor it entails. Not all power entails honor.'' Power is not the only basis of social honor, and social honor, or prestige, may be the basis of economic power.
''Power, as well as honor, may be guaranteed by the legal order, but... [the legal order] is not their primary source. The legal order is rather an additional factor that enhances the chance to hold power or honor; but it cannot always secure them'' (926-7).
Class is defined in terms of market situation. A class exists when a number of people have in common a specific casual component of their life chances in the following sense: this component is represented exclusively by economic interests in the possession of goods and opportunities for income under conditions of the commodity or labor markets.
When market conditions prevail (eg, capitalism), property and lack of property are the basic categories of all class situations. However, the concept of class-interest is ambiguous. Collective action based on class situations is determined by the transparency of the connections between the causes and the consequences of the class situation. If the contrast between the life chances of different class situations is merely seen as an acceptable absolute fact, no action will be taken to change the class situation.
A class in and of itself does not constitute a group (Gemeinschaft). ''The degree in which social action and possibly associations emerge from the mass behavior of the members of a class is linked to general cultural conditions, especially those of an intellectual sort'' (929). ''If classes as such are not groups, class situations emerge only on the basis of social action.''
Status Groups and Honor
Unlike classes, status groups do have a quality of groups. They are determined by the distribution of social honor. A specific style of life is shared by a status group, and the group itself is defined by those with whom one has social intercourse. Economic elements can be a sort of honor; however, similar class position does not necessitate similar status groups (see old money's contempt for the nouveau riche). People from different economic classes may be members of the same status group, if they share the same specific style of life.
The way in which social honor is distributed in the community is called the status order. Criteria for entry into a status group may take forms such as the sharing of kinship groups or certain levels of education. The most extreme of a status system with a high level of closure (that is, strong restriction of mobility between statuses) is a caste system. There, status distinctions are guaranteed no only by law and convention, but also by religious sanctions.
Relationships between Class and Status group; between Class situation, Status Situation, and Stratification.
Status groups can sometimes be equal to class, sometimes be broader, sometimes more restrictive, and sometimes bear no relation to class (duh). In most cases, status situation is the apparent dimension of stratification: ''stratification by status goes hand in hand with a monopolization of ideal and material goods or opportunities'' (935). Class situation can take precedence over status situation, however. ''When the bases of the acquisition and distribution of goods are relatively stable, stratification by status is favored'' (935). Technological and economic changes threaten stratification by status, and ''push class situation to the foreground.... Every slowing down of the change in economic stratification leads, in due course, to the growth or status structures and makes for a resuscitation of the important role of social honor'' (930).
''Parties reside in the sphere of power'' (938). ''Parties are... only possible within groups that have an asssociational character, that is, some rational order and a staff of persons'' (938). Parties aim for social power, the ability to influence the actions of others, and thus may exist in a social club, the state, or a cohort of graduate students at the University of Chicago.
Parties may represent class or status interests, or neither. They usually represent a mix.
''The structure of parties differs in a basic way according to the kind of social action which they struggle to influence.... [T]hey differ according to whether or not the community is stratified by class or status. Above all else, they vary according to the structure of domination'' (938-9).
abbreviations: MWC = modern, western capitalism
Though knowledge and observation of great refinement have existed elsewhere, only in the West has rationalization in science, law and culture developed to such a great degree. The modern West absolutely and completely depends for its whole existence, for the political technical, and economic conditions of its life, on a specially trained organization of individuals, so that the most important functions of everyday life have come to be in the hands of technically, commercially and above all legally trained government officials. Nowhere else does this exist to such a degree as it does in the West.
The most fateful force in modern life is capitalism. The impulse to acquisition has existed always and everywhere and has in itself nothing to do with capitalism. Capitalism is the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic enterprise. This enterprise must be continuous, because in a capitalistic society, anyone who did not take advantage of opportunities for profit-making would be doomed to extinction.
A capitalistic economic action rests on the expectation of profit by the utilization of opportunities for exchange, on (formally) peaceful chances for profit. Where this is rationally pursued, calculations in terms of money are made, whether by modern bookkeeping or more primitive means. Everything is done in terms of balances of money income and money expenses. Whether the calculations are accurate, or whether the calculation method is traditional or by guess-work affects only the degree of the rationality of capitalistic acquisition.
Characteristics of modern Western capitalism: rational industrial organization (that is, attuned to a regular profit and not to political nor irrational speculative opportunities for profit); separation of business from the household; rational bookkeeping. Capitalistic adventurers (in search of booty, whether by war or exploitation) have existed everywhere, but only in the modern West has developed... the rational capitalistic organization of (formally) free labor.
The rationality of MWC is dependent on the calculation of technical factors, and so is dependent on the development in science of the exact and rational experiment. C'ism did not cause this development: but, the continuing development of this type science is supported by capitalistic interests in practical economic applications.
The peculiar rationalism of Western culture extends to many fields -- science, mystical contemplation, military training, law and administration. Each of theses fields may be rationalized in terms of very different ultimate values and ends, and what is rational from one point of view may well be irrational from another. The development of economic rationalism is partly dependent on rational technique and law, but it also requires people to have a favorable disposition toward adopting certain types of practical rational conduct.
In this book, we will treat ONLY ONE SIDE OF THE CAUSAL CHAIN, the connection of the spirit of modern economic life with the rational ethics of ascetic Protestantism.
Religious Affiliation and Social Stratification
Catholics show a stronger propensity to remain in their crafts, and become master craftsmen, while Protestants are attracted to a larger extent to the upper ranks of skilled labor and administrative positions in factories. Protestants own a disproportionate share of capital. All other things equal, Protestants have been more likely to develop economic rationalism than Catholics. Weber seeks the explanation in 'the permanent intrinsic character of their religion,' and not only in their temporary external historico-political situations.
The Reformation meant not the elimination of the church's control over everyday life, but a substitution of a new form of control for the previous one. While the Catholic church was fairly lax, Calvinism 'would be for us the most absolutely unbearable form of ecclesiastical control of the individual which could possibly exist.'
Protestantism must not be understood as joy of living or in any other sense connected with the Enlightenment. Early Protestantism (e.g., Luther, Calvin) had nothing to do with progress in an Enlightenment sense. Not all Protestant denominations had an equally strong influence on the development of members' business acumen and spirit of hard work.
The Spirit of Capitalism
The spirit of capitalism is ''an historical individual: a complex of elements associated in historical reality which we united into a conceptual whole from the standpoint of their cultural significance'' (47).
Ben Franklin is an example of someone who espouses a philosophy of avarice which is: the ideal of an honest man of recognized credit. It includes a duty on the part of an individual toward the increase of his capital, which is assumed as an end in itself. It is not mere business astuteness, it is an ethos; infraction of its rules is not foolishness or bad business, but forgetfulness of duty.
In this ethic, economic acquisition is no longer considered a means of subsistence: it is the ultimate purpose of a man's life. This is combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life. (NOTE: From the standpoint ''of the happiness of, or utility to, a single individual, this ethic appears entirely transcendental and absolutely irrational'' (53)).
People now are born into a capitalistic economy which presents itself to them as the unalterable order of things in which they must live. In so far as a person born now is involved in the system of market relationships, he must conform to capitalistic rules of action. Today's capitalism selects the subjects it needs through economic survival of the fittest. The interesting question, according to Max, is WHERE DID THIS SITUATION COME FROM?
It did NOT arise as the superstructure or reflection of economic situations. For example, the spirit of capitalism such as espoused by our buddy Ben Franklin was present before capitalistic order.
In order to arise, the spirit of capitalism had to struggle with its 'most important opponent,' traditionalism. For instance, workers will respond to an increase in piece rates by doing less work, collecting the usual amount of money, and going home early. Men do not ''by nature'' wish to earn more and more money, they simply wish to live as they are accustomed to and to earn as much as is necessary for that purpose.
Another way of attempting to increase productivity is to lower wages or piece rates, so that workers must work harder and longer to earn the same amount as before. This method has its limits. It (and capitalism) requires a surplus population which can be hired cheaply in the market. Also, too large a surplus population can encourage the development of labor intensive methods, rather than more efficient methods: low wages do not equal cheap labor. And, if you pay people too little, their efficiency and attentiveness decreases.
Thus, it would be better if labor were performed as if it were an absolute end in itself. This can only be the process of a long and arduous education (for example, being raised Pietist). Capitalism ''now in the saddle'' can fairly easily recruit the required workers, but this was not always the case.
Capitalism can exist with a traditionalistic character. The animating spirit of the entrepreneur may be the traditional rate of profit, the traditional amount of work, the traditional manner of labor-management relations, and the essentially traditional circle of customers and manner of attracting new ones. Take the example of the putting out system.
In such a system, this leisureliness can be destroyed, without any essential change in the form of work organization (such as vertically integrated factories). The spirit of capitalism is the cause of this change. Where the spirit of capitalism appears and is able to work itself out, it produces its own capital and monetary supplies as the means to its ends, but the reverse is not true (69).
Protestantism was not merely a stage prior to the development of a purely rationalistic philosophy, however. Rationalism shows a development which by no means follows parallel lines in the various departments of life. Since life may be rationalized from fundamentally different basic points of view and in very different directions, we must ask the origin of the irrational element which lies at the basis of this particular concrete form of rational thought: the conception of a calling.
Luther's Conception of The Calling
The idea of a calling -- a life-task, a definite field in which to work -- is peculiar to Protestants. Protestantism had a further new development, which was the valuation of the fulfillment of duty in worldly affairs as the highest form which the moral activity of an individual could assume. The only way of living acceptably to God was solely through the fulfillment of the obligations imposed upon the individual by his position in the world (his calling), NOT by trying to surpass worldly morality by monastic asceticism (80).
Remember important part of Reformation: By faith, not works, shall ye be saved. You are justified by faith, etc. So all those indulgences earned by crawling on your knees up stairways, etc. don't get you anything.
For the time being (before Calvin et al. got hold of it), the idea of the calling remained traditionalistic and its only ethical result negative: worldly duties were no longer subordinated to ascetic ones; obedience to authority and acceptance of things as they were, were preached.
The Religious Foundations of Worldly Asceticism
However, this idea of the calling was not sufficient for the development of the spirit of capitalism. We needed the effects of forms of ascetic Protestantism: Calvinism, Pietism, Methodism and the Baptist sects.
An important thing to keep in mind is that these folks were not motivated by acquisitive lusts, but rather by salvation of the soul.
Calvinists believed in predestination. God designated before the creation of the world who would be saved and who would get to rot in hell. All creation exists for the sake of God, and has meaning only as means to the glory and majesty of God. Human merit or guilt plays no part in the possession of grace, since that would make God's decrees subject to human influence. This doctrine 'must above all have one consequence... a feeling of unprecedented inner loneliness of the single individual' (104). The individual was forced to follow the path of his own destiny decreed for him from eternity without help from others or from the Church -- complete elimination of salvation through the Church and the sacraments (which Lutheranism retained). This meant the elimination of magic from the world. [It also meant the doing away with a periodical discharge of the emotional sense of sin (confession).]
Now, the elected Christian should glorify God in life by fulfilling God's commandments to the best of his ability. This requires social achievements of the Christian because God decrees that social life shall be organized according to his commandments.
Fear and lack of knowledge of whether or not one is going to rot in hell led to a need for ordinary men to find certitudo salutis (certainty of salvation). Pastoral advice to these poor, tortured dudes contained two themes: 1) an absolute duty to consider oneself chosen and to combat all doubts as temptations of the devil, since lack of self-confidence is the result of insufficient faith, hence of imperfect grace. 2) Intense worldly activity as the most suitable means to attain that self-confidence [thus we eliminate the free rider problem]. The Calvinist sought to identify true faith by its fruits: a type of Christian conduct which served to increase the glory of God. Good works do not affect salvation, but they are indispensable as a sign of election. In practice, this means God helps those who help themselves. The Calvinist creates a conviction of his own salvation.
For Catholics, good works were not a part of a rationalized system of life -- they could be performed sporadically, to atone -- whereas for Calvinists they are. The God of Calvinism demanded not single good works, but a life of good works combined into a unified system. The moral conduct of the average man was subjected to a consistent method for conduct as a whole. The end of this asceticism was to be able to lead an alert, intelligent life: the most urgent task the destruction of spontaneous, impulsive enjoyment. The most important means was to bring order into the conduct of its adherents. Hence we have methodically rationalized ethical conduct.
The Calvinistic doctrine of predestination was only one of several possible motives which could have supported the methodical rationalization of life. However, it had not only a unique consistency (by virtue of being based on logical deduction, rather than religious experience) and was psychologically extraordinarily powerful.
This sect sought to make the invisible Church of the elect visible on this earth. By means of intensified asceticism these folks hoped to enjoy the blissfulness of community with God in this life. Sometimes this latter tendency led to displays of emotion, which were antithetical to Calvinist restraint. Other than that, however, the practical effect of Pietistic principles was an even stricter ascetic control of conduct in the calling:
1) Methodical development of one's own state of grace to a higher
and higher degree of certainty and perfection in terms of the law was
a sign of grace.
Since some of these folks believed grace subject to repentance, by the creation of methods to induce repentance even the attainment of divine grace became in effect an object of rational human activity.
Though rebirth, an emotional certainty of salvation as the immediate result of faith was an important factor, the emotional act of conversion was methodically induced. Emotion, once awakened, was directed into a rational struggle for perfection. This provided a religious basis for ascetic conduct after the doctrine of predestination had been given up by these folks.
Nothing new was added to the idea of the calling.
The Baptist Sects
The church was viewed as a community of personal believers of the reborn. Salvation was achieved by personal, individual revelation; it was offered to everyone, though not everyone took it.
The injunction was to be in the world but not of it, so worldly enjoyments and unnecessary social intercourse with non-reborn folks was avoided. The Holy Spirit worked in daily life, and spoke directly to any individual who was willing to hear. This leads to an eventual elimination of all that remained of the doctrine of salvation through the Church and sacraments. This accomplished the religious rationalization of the world in its most extreme form.
Conscience is the revelation of God to the individual.
The rationalization of conduct within the world, but for the sake of the world beyond, was the consequence of the concept of calling of ascetic Protestantism.
Asceticism and The Spirit of Capitalism
In Puritan thinking, the real moral objection to possession of wealth is to relaxation in the security of possession, the enjoyment of wealth with the consequence of idleness and the temptations of the flesh, above all distraction from the pursuit of a righteous life. It is only because possession involves this danger that it is suspect at all. Not leisure and enjoyment, but only activity serves to increase the glory of God. Waste of time is thus the first and in principle the deadliest of sins. Thus, inactive contemplation at the expense of work is right out.
Labor is an approved ascetic technique, but is also considered in itself an end of life as ordained by God. Unwillingness to work is symptomatic of the lack of grace. Wealth does not exempt anyone from this.
The division of labor, which has a providential purpose in the thought of the Puritans, leads to qualitative and quantitative improvements in production, and thus serves the common good. But, in addition, specialization is encouraged by the calling, to which it provides an ethical justification; for, ''outside of a calling the accomplishments of a man are only casual and irregular and he spends more time in idleness than in work.'' If God presents to His elect a change for profit, he must pursue it: the Christian must follow the call by taking advantage of the opportunity. The acquisition of wealth in the performance of a calling is morally permissible and enjoined.
-- Asceticism turned against the spontaneous enjoyment of life. So, sport, for instance, is acceptable only if it serves a rational purpose, say, increasing physical efficiency.
-- The powerful tendency toward uniformity of life, which today so immensely aids the capitalistic interest in the standardization of production, had its ideal foundation in the repudiation of all idolatry of the flesh (eg, non-ascetic, flashy or attractive clothing).
The Puritan outlook on life 'stood at the cradle of modern economic man' (174). This religious epoch bequeathed to its utilitarian successors ''an amazingly good... conscience in the acquisition of money, so long as it took place legally'' (176). In addition, the power of religious asceticism provided owners with sober, conscientious and industrious workmen. And, it provided comforting assurance that the unequal distribution of goods in the world was ordained by God.
The religious basis had died away by Ben Franklin's time. Limitation to specialized work is now a condition of any valuable work in the modern world. ''The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production and today determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force.''
The Religious Rejections of the World and Their Directions
Motives for the Rejections of the World: The Meaning of Their Rational
Typology of Asceticism and Mysticism
Active asceticism may confine itself to controlling wickedness in the actor's own nature; in this case, it avoids any action in the orders of the world (asceticist flight from the world). In external bearing, it thereby comes close to contemplative flight. Conversely, the mystic may determine s/he need not flee from the world, and so be an inner-worldly mysticist, remaining in the orders of the world.
Directions of the Abnegation of the World:
The more comprehensive and the more inward the aim of salvation has been, the more it has been taken for granted that the faithful should ultimately stand closer to the savior, the prophet, the priest, the brother in the faith than to natural relations and to the matrimonial community. Prophecy has created a new social community; thereby the relationships of the sib and of matrimony have been devalued.
Communities of villages, members of the sib, the guild or of partners in seafaring, hunting and warring expeditions have known two elemental principles: first, the dualism or in-group and out-group morality. For in-group morality the principled obligation to give brotherly support in distress has existed. All this followed the principle of ''your want of today, may be my want of tomorrow'' (this principle was not rationally weighed, but it played its part in sentiment). Accordingly, haggling in exchange and loan situations, as well as permanent debt-enslavement and similar kinds of enslavement, were confined to outgroup morality and applied only to outsiders.
The religiosity of the congregation transferred the ancient economic ethic of neighborliness (I'll help you out today, since I may need you to help me out tomorrow) to the relations among brothers of the faith. What had previously been the obligations of the noble and the wealthy became the fundamental imperatives of all ethically rationalized religion (to care for orphans and widows, to give alms). The principle that constituted the communal relations among the salvation prophesies was the suffering common to all believers (whether or not the suffering actually existed or was a constant threat, whether it was internal or external). The more imperatives that issued from the ethic of reciprocity among neighbors were raised, the more rational the conception of salvation became, and the more it was sublimated into an ethic of absolute ends.
The Economic Sphere
A rational economy is a functional organization oriented to money-prices which originate in the interest-struggles of men in the market. Calculation is not possible without estimation in money prices and hence without market struggles. Money is the most abstract and impersonal element that exists in human life. The more the world of the capitalist economy follows its own immanent laws, the less accessible it is to any imaginable relationship with a religious ethic of brotherliness. Ultimately no genuine religion of salvation has overcome the tension between their religiosity and a rational economy.
The paradox of all rational asceticism is that rational asceticism has created the very wealth it rejected.
There have only been two consistent avenues for escaping the tension
between religion and in the economic world in a principled and inward
The Political Sphere
The brotherliness of a group of men bound together in war appears valueless in brotherly religions; it is seen as a mere reflection of the technically sophisticated brutality of the struggle. It's consecration appears as the glorification of fratricide.
The only two consistent solutions (first three guesses don't count...): puritanism and mysticism. Puritanism believes God's commands should be imposed on the world by the means of the world -- violence, so ''just war'' is not a problem for Puritanism (God is on their side). The mystics take a ''radical political attitude'' of ''turning the other cheek'' which makes them appear ''necessarily vulgar and lacking in dignity in the eyes of every self-assured worldly ethic of heroism.''
Organic social ethics (where religiously substructured) stands on the soil of brotherliness, but, in contrast to mystic and acosmic love, is dominated by a cosmic, rational demand for brotherliness. It point of departure is the experience of the inequality of religious charisma. The fact that the holy should be accessible to some and not all is unbearable to organic social ethics. It therefore attempts to synthesize this inequality of charismatic qualifications with secular stratification by status, into a cosmos of God-ordained services which are specialized in function. Certain tasks are given to every individual and every group according to their social and economic position as determined by fate. Without something like the Indian doctrine of Karma (which says there's a reason why you're bottom dog), every organic social ethic unavoidably represents an accommodation to the interests of the privileged strata of the world.
From the standpoint of inner-worldly asceticism, the organic ethic lacks the drive for an ethical and thorough rationalization of individual life. In such matters, it has no premium for the rational and methodical patterning of personal life in the interest of the individual's own salvation. The organic pragmatism of salvation must consider the redemptory aristocracy of inner-worldly asceticism, with its rational depersonalization of life orders, as the hardest form of lovelessness and lack of brotherliness. It must also consider the redemptory pragmatism of mysticism as a sublimated and unbrotherly indulgence of the mystic' s own charisma. Both inner-worldly asceticism and mysticism ultimately condemn the social world to absolute meaninglessness (or, at least they hold that God's aims concerning the world are utterly incomprehensible).
The rationalism of religious and organic doctrines of society cannot stand up under this idea; for it seeks to comprehend the world as an at least relatively rational cosmos in spite of all its wickedness: the world must hear at least traces of the divine plan of salvation.
The organic ethic of society is an eminently conservative power hostile
to revolution. Virtuoso religion is a potentially revolutionary force.
Its revolutionary turn may assume two forms:
The Aesthetic Sphere
The Erotic Sphere
The Intellectual Sphere
The less magic or merely contemplative mysticism and the more pure doctrine a religion contains, the greater is its need of rational apologetics. The more religion became book-religion and doctrine, the more literary it became and the more efficacious it became in provoking rational lay-thinking, freed of priestly control. However, there is no ''unbroken'' religion working as a vital force which is not compelled at some point to demand the credo non quod, sed quia absurdum (some saint said this, but i can't remember which one, it means ''i believe it because it is absurd''. i think it was said in reference to the trinity), the sacrifice of the intellect.
Redemptory religion defends itself against the attack of the self-sufficient intellect, by raising the claim that religious knowledge moves in a different sphere.
The need for salvation, consciously cultivated as the substance of religiosity, has resulted from the endeavor of a systematic and practical rationalization of life's realities. All religions have demanded as a specific presupposition that the course of the world be somehow meaningful, at least in so far as it touches upon the interests of men (this claim arises first as the problem of unjust suffering and just compensation for the unequal distribution of individual happiness in the world). From here, the claim has tended to progress toward an ever increasing devaluation of the world. For, the more intensely rational thought has seized upon the problem of a just and retributive compensation, the less an entirely inner-worldly solution could seem possible, and the less an other-worldly solution could appear probable or even meaningful.
The intellect, like all culture values, has created an aristocracy based on the possession of rational culture and independent of all personal ethical qualities of man. The aristocracy of intellect is hence an unbrotherly aristocracy. Worldly man has regarded the possession of culture as the highest good. In addition to the burden of ethical guilt, however, something has adhered to this cultural value which was bound to depreciate it with still greater finality, namely, senselessness (if the cultural value is to be judged in terms of its own standards).
The pure inner-worldly perfection of self by a man of ''culture'', the ultimate value to which ''culture'' has seemed to be reducible is meaningless for religious thought. This meaninglessness follows for religious thought from the obvious meaninglessness of death when viewed from the inner-worldly standpoint. The cultivated man can die weary of life, but never satiated with it; for, the perfectibility of the man of culture, in principle, progresses indefinitely, as do the cultural values.
Culture appears as man's emancipation from the organically prescribed cycle of natural life. For this reason, culture's every step forward seems condemned to lead to an every more devastating senselessness. The advancement of cultural values seems to become a senseless hustle in the service of worthless, moreover self-contradictory, and mutually antagonistic ends. The advancement of cultural values appears the more meaningless the more it is made a holy task, a ''calling.''
The need for salvation responds to this devaluation by becoming more other-worldly, more alienated from all structured forms of life, and by confining itself to the strict religious essence. The reaction is the stronger the more systematic the thinking about the ''meaning'' of the universe becomes, the more the external organization of the world is rationalized, the more the conscious experience of the world's irrational content is sublimated. AND NOT ONLY THEORETICAL THOUGHT LED TO THIS DISENCHANTING OF THE WORLD, BUT ALSO THE VERY ATTEMPT OF RELIGIOUS ETHICS TO PRACTICALLY AND ETHICALLY RATIONALIZE THE WORLD.
These specific intellectual and mystical attempts at salvation in the face of these tensions succumb in the end to the world dominion of unbrotherliness. One the one hand, their charisma is not accessible to everyone. Hence, in intent, mystical salvation means aristocracy; it is an aristocratic religiosity of redemption. And, in the midst of a culture that is rationally organized for a vocational workaday life, there is hardly any room for the cultivation of acosmic brotherliness, unless it is among the strata of the economically carefree. Under the technical and social conditions of rational culture, an imitation of the life of Buddha, Jesus or Francis seems condemned to failure for purely external reasons.
MAX WEBER: General Economic History
Chap 22, The Meaning and Presuppositions of Modern Capitalism
C'ism is present wherever the industrial provision for the needs of a human group is carried out by the method of enterprise. A rational capitalistic enterprise is one with capital accounting, according to the methods of modern bookkeeping and the striking of a balance. In a given economy, parts may be capitalistically organized, and other parts not so. An epoch is capitalistic if the provision of its wants is organized capitalistically to such a degree that the whole economic system would collapse if we take away the capitalistic form of organization.
General presuppositions for the existence of modern day capitalism
(thinking along the ideal type line):
Chap27, The Development of Industrial Technique
Real distinguishing characteristic of the modern factory: the concentration of ownership of workplace, means of work, source of power and raw material in the hands of the entrepreneur.
Key: Shift from nature's power (water) to more manageable, reliable, calculable forces (like steam). This, along with mechanization, permits rationalization of work.
Development of use of coal, and subsequent production of iron had 3 important consequences:
1) released technology and productive capabilities from the limits
inherent in the qualities of organic industry (eg, horses get tired,
the wind doesn't always blow, etc.)
Recruitment of the labor force for this new form of production was carried by means of indirect compulsion. The enclosure movement and changes in agricultural production left a bunch of people wandering around without jobs, who were forced into jobs by being threatened with the ''workhouse'' if they didn't take jobs in the new factories. From the beginning of the 18th c., there began to be laws to regulate employers conduct toward their employees, to ensure laborers were paid in money and not in kind.
War needs and luxury consumption fed capitalism's growth. However, all those silly folks who've argued that war was the driving force are wrong. While the desire of nobility and the upperclasses for luxury goods was important, the increasing production of tapestries and carpets was a key marker of the democratization of luxury, which is the crucial direction of capitalistic production. The decisive impetus for c'ism could only come from mass market demand.
The reason this development took place only in the West is due to special features of the West's general cultural evolution: rational law, rational empirical science, a state with a professional administration, specialized officialdom, men with a rational ethic in the conduct of life.
Ch 28, Citizenship
Outside the occident there have not been cities in the sense of a unitary community. Occidental cities originally arose through the establishment of a fraternity; it was in its beginnings first above all a defense group, an organization of those economically competent to bear arms, to equip and train themselves. These folks owned their own arms: this is key.
In places like Egypt, Asia, India and China, irrigation was a big issue, and so kings' bureaucracies developed. The king and his staff required the compulsory service of the dependent classes; they in turn were dependent on that bureaucracy. The king also held a military monopoly. In the west, self-equipment and religious brotherhoods (eg, crusaders) meant kings did not have a military monopoly, and so cities could be formed in a western sense, based on mutual defense.
Also, ideas and institutions in the orient connected with magic, which supported such systems as caste systems, did not exist in such strength in the occident.
Chap 29, The Rational State
Modern capism can survive only in the modern rational state.
Ch 30, The Evolution of The Capitalistic Spirit
While several factors fed into the development of capitalism, ''in the last resort the factor which produced capitalism is the rational permanent enterprise, rational accounting, rational technology and rational law, but not these alone. Necessary complementary factors were the rational spirit, the rationalization of the conduct of life in general, and a rationalistic economic ethic'' (260).
In the middle ages, the position of the church on economic ethics was that it excluded ''higgling'' (cute word; he means haggling), overpricing and free competition and included the principle of a just price and the assurance to everyone of a chance to live.
Since Judaism made Christianity possible and gave it the character of a religion essentially free from magic, it rendered a service by removing one of the most serious obstructions to the rationalization of economic life (magic). Prophesies (rather than oracles by lot, etc.) have released the world from magic and in so doing have created the basis for our modern science and technology, and for capitalism.
Basically, then, Weber chats re: the spirit of capitalism, which you know all about from somewhere else.
As noted earlier, the breakdown of the dual economic ethics was key.
A note on class conflict: ''It was possible for the working class to accept its lot as long as the promise of eternal happiness could be held out to it. When this consolation fell away it was inevitable that those strains and stresses would appear in economic society which since then have been growing rapidly. This point had been reached at the end of the early period of capitalism, at the beginning of the age of iron, in the 19th century'' (270).
The Types of Authority and Imperative Control/The Types of Legitimate Domination (depends on your translation)
Basis of Legitimacy
Domination is defined as the probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of people. A certain minimum of voluntary submission is necessary; thus on the part of the submitter there is an interest (whether based on ulterior motives or genuine acceptance) in obedience.
- Not every claim protected by custom or law involves a relation of authority. For instance, if I ask Charles to pay me for the work i do as fulfillment of our contract, I am not exercising authority over him.
- The legitimacy of a system of authority may be treated sociologically only as the probability that to a relevant degree the appropriate attitudes will exist and the corresponding conduct ensue.
- Obedience means the action of the person 'obeying' follows a course such that the content of the command can be taken as the reason for his/her action.
3 Pure Types of Legitimate Authority
Rational Legal Authority with a Bureaucratic Administrative Staff
Typical person in authority occupies an office. Person who obeys authority
does so only in his capacity as a member of the corporate group, and
what he obeys is only the law. Fundamental Qualities: 1) continuous
organization of official functions bound by rules
BUREAUCRACY, almost the same...
Monocratic bureaucracy is capable of attaining the highest degrees of efficiency and is the most rational means known of carrying out imperative control over people. Makes possible a high degree of calculability.
Bureaucratic administration means fundamentally the exercise of control on the basis of knowledge.
General Social Consequences of bureaucratic control
When resistance occurs, the accusation is that the chief is not following the tradition. The system itself is not questioned.
A chief can have an administrative staff: patrimonial recruitment of staff comes from people who have a traditional tie of personal loyalty to the chief (children, slaves, clients, etc.). Extrapatrimonial recruitment comes from people in a purely personal relation of loyalty (vassals, etc.)
The staff lacks: clearly defined spheres of competence subject to impersonal rules; rational ordering of relations of superiority and inferiority; regular system of promotion and free contract; technical training as a requirement; fixed salaries in $$.
Gerontocracy and Patrimonialism are forms of traditional authority w/o a personal administrative staff of the chief. G is rule by elders, and P is where there's rule by someone designated by inheritance. There is still a general idea of everyone being a member of the group, though there is by no means equal distribution of power.
With the development of a purely personal administrative staff, we get patrimonialism. Members of the group are now treated as subjects.
A patrimonial retainer can be supported by: maintenance at his lords table, by allowances from the chief (primarily in kind), by rights of land use in return for services, by appropriation of property income, fees, or taxes, by fiefs.
There is no legal wisdom oriented to judicial precedent. Charismatic authority is specifically irrational in the sense of being foreign to all rules. It repudiates the past, and is in this sense a revolutionary force.
It is hostile to everyday economic considerations. It can only tolerate irregular, unsystematic, acquisitive acts.
In traditional periods, it is the greatest revolutionary force. Reason is equally revolutionary, and works from without by altering the situations of action, or it intellectualizes the individual. Charisma may involve a subjective or internal reorientation which may result in a radical alteration of the central system of attitudes, a completely new orientation towards different problems and structures of the world.
The Routinization of Charisma
As soon as the position of authority is well established, and above all as soon as control over large masses of people exists, it gives way to the forces of everyday routine. There is an objective necessity of patterns of order and organization of the administrative staff in order to meet the normal, everyday needs and conditions of carrying on administration. In addition, there is a striving for security, requiring legitimation of positions of authority and social prestige and economic advantages held by the followers.
The process of routinization is thus not confined to the problem of succession, and does not stop when it is solved. The most fundamental problem is the transition from the charismatic administrative staff and its mode of administration to one that can handle everyday conditions.
Possible Types of Solution:
Routinization also takes the form of the appropriation of powers of control and economic advantages by the disciples. Again, it can be either traditional or legal, depending on whether or not legislation of some sort is involved. This is how we get differences between, say, the clergy and the laity.
MAX WEBER: Methodology of the Social Sciences
Objectivity in Social Science and Social Policy
The purpose of this new journal (where this essay appeared) is ''the education of judgement about practical social problems'' and ''the criticism of practical social policy.''
Questions to be addressed:
The science of social institutions and culture arose for practical considerations, with the purpose of producing value-judgement as measures of state policy. Knowledge of what ''is'' was conflated with knowledge of what ''should be''; this was because natural laws and evolutionary principles dominated the field. This journal will try to reject this conflation, since ''it can never be the task of an empirical science to provide binding norms and ideals from which the directives for immediate personal activity can be derived.'' Value-judgements should not be eliminated, but subjected to scientific criticism. Science can help an actor choose between alternative ends by analyzing the appropriateness of a means for an end, and by providing information on what a desired end will cost in terms of the loss of other values. The acting person can then choose from among the values involved according to his own conscience or personal view. Science can show him that all choosing involves the espousal of certain values.
Every science of cultural life must arrive at a rational understanding of the ideas which underlie every concrete end. Science can judge these ideas and ends ONLY according to a logical and historically defined standard of value which can be elevated to a certain ''level of explicitness'' beyond individual sentiment. Science can tell a person what s/he can do, not what s/he should do. Put another way, treating the ideas as a coherent system of thought, science can point out to an actor what is possible within his or her value system, and what would be contradictory to that value system.
Problems of social policy are not based on purely technical considerations of specific ends, but involve disputes about the normative standards of value which lie in the domain of general cultural values. This conflict over general cultural values does not occur solely between 'class interests' but between general views on life and the universe as well (take that, Karl).
It is NOT POSSIBLE to establish and to demonstrate as scientifically valid 'a principle' for practical social science from which the norms for the solution of practical problems can be unambiguously derived. While social science needs the discussion of practical problems in terms of fundamental principles, that is, the reduction of unreflective value-judgements to the premises from which they are logically derived, the search for a ''lowest common denominator'' of in the form of generally valid value judgements is not empirical, impractical and entirely meaningless. We cannot establish on the basis of ethical imperatives or norms for concretely condition individual conduct, normatively desirable cultural values. (57)
Objective science must distinguish between value judgements and empirical knowledge, and try to see factual truths. However, value-judgements of the practical interest of the scientist will always be significant in determining the focus of attention of analytical activity (my values direct me in what I think are interesting or important questions or matters to investigate -- this gets called, value-relevance elsewhere: there is no harm, according to Max, in allowing your values, personal interests or social commitments to guide you in the selection of research topics; however, once you start researching, you need value-neutrality).
This journal will pursue logical analysis of the content of ideals, while not ignoring how ideals motivate value-judgements. It will present social policy, i.e., the statement of ideals, in addition to social science, i.e., the analysis of facts. In non-scientific discussions of policy, it must be made clear where the investigator stops analyzing and where the evaluating and acting person begins to present his sentiments (make value judgements). Again, individual sentiments don't have to be eliminated, nor can they be, but they should be kept strictly separate from scientific analysis. ''An attitude of moral indifference has not connection with scientific 'objectivity'.''
As said before, every recognition of a scientific problem reflects specific motives and values on the part of the investigator. This journal, a good journal, will try to avoid developing on a character on the basis of the values of its common contributors.
A social science problem is one which throws light on the ''the fundamental socio-economic problem: the scarcity of means'' (64) For us, phenomena have the following cultural significance (since we are interested in socio-economic data), ''economic,'' ''economically-relevant,'' ''economically-conditioned.'' This journal (thus, by extension, our buddy Max), considers all of these as important since material interests influence all aspects of culture w/o exception (67).
Our science, the science of economic cultural phenomena seeks particular causes for these phenomena, so it is also interested in historical knowledge. We want to investigate the general cultural significance of the socio-economic structure of the human community and its historical forms of organization (66-7). Treatment of these social problems will (hopefully) result in solutions for social policy.
This limited scope (focus on the socio-economic aspect of cultural life) is deliberately one-sided, because general social science is ambiguous without some specification of the way in which this social is to be investigated. This journal is interested, however, in the economic interp of history, not the materialist conception of history as a causal formula (take that, Karl). Karl's materialist conception is popular among laymen and dilettantes (not to mention, so I hear, hat-wearing, feminist vegetarians) who are not satisfied until they find economic causes for every freakin' thing under the sun.
The explanation of everything by economic causes alone is never exhaustive in any sense whatsoever in any sphere of cultural phenomena, not even in the economic sphere itself. We choose this one-sided approach, however, as a way to investigate cultural reality by specific technical means and using qualitatively similar categories (remember, though, material interests are found in every aspect of culture).
There is no absolutely objective scientific analysis of culture independent of special and one-sided viewpoints according to which social phenomena are selected, analyzed, and organized for expository purposes. These view points are necessary in order to engage in an empirical science of concrete reality which seeks to understand the cultural significance of individual events in their contemporary manifestations and the causes of their being historical so and not otherwise. The infinite multiplicity of life means that we can select only a segment of it for scientific investigation.
MAX WEBER: Methodology of the Social Sciences
The Meaning of Ethical Neutrality in Sociology and Economics
--Value-judgements are practical evaluations of the unsatisfactory
or satisfactory character of phenomena subject to our influence.
--Problems in social science are selected by value-relevance -- relevance
for values of the researcher/problem-selector. The task of a value-neutral
science, once the problem of interest is chosen, is the reduction of,
say, a communist standpoint to its most rational and internally consistent
form, and the empirical investigation the pre-conditions for its existence
and its practical consequences. This analyses, though, can never tell
us whether or not we should be communists; no science can. Strictly
empirical analysis can provide a solution to a problem only where it
is a question of a means adequate to the realization of an absolutely
MAX WEBER: Politics as a Vocation
Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.
First, a general chat on states.
The decisive means of politics is violence.
How do the politically dominant powers maintain that dominance? Organized domination calls for continuous administration, requires that human conduct be conditioned to obedience to the power-bearers. It requires control over the material goods necessary for the use of physical violence. Thus, it requires control of the personal executive staff and the material implements of administration. All states may be classified by whether the staff of men themselves owns the administrative means, or whether they are separated from it (necesse. for bureaucracy).
Now to chatting about politics as a vocation.
The development of politics into an organization which demanded training in the struggle for power, and int eh methods of this struggle as developed by modern party policies, determined the separation of public functionaries into two categories: administrative officials and political officials. Political officials can be transferred any time at will, and can be dismissed or at least temporarily withdrawn. Cabinet ministers often are much less in control of their areas than divisional heads, who are long-term, administrative appointees; a minister is simply the representative of a given political power constellation.
The genuine official, even a political official, conducts his business sine ira et studio (at least formally, as long as the vital interests of the ruling order are not in question). To be passionate, on the other hand, is the element of the politician and above all of the political leader. ''Since the time of the constitutional state, and definitely since democracy has been established, the demagogue has been the typical political leader'' (96). The current state of affairs is a ''dictatorship resting on the exploitation of mass emotionality'' (107). Next to the qualities of will, the force of demagogic speech has been above all decisive in the choice of strong leaders.
''What kind of man must one be if he is to be allowed to put his hand on the wheel of history?'' (115). He must have passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion. Passion in the sense of matter-of-factness, of passionate devotion to a cause, to the god or demon who is its overlord. Responsibility to the cause must be the guiding star of action. For this, a sense of proportion is needed Warm passion and a cool sense of proportion must be forged together in one and the same soul.
The politician must combat vanity, in order to be matter-of-factly devoted to his cause and preserve some distance, not least from himself. Lack of objectivity and irresponsibility are the two deadly sins of politics; vanity, the need to personally stand in the foreground, temps the politician to commit these sins. The final result of political action regularly stands in completely inadequate and often paradoxical relation to its original meaning (oh, cheery old Weber). Because of this fact, the serving of a cause must not be absent if action is to have inner strength. Exactly which cause looks like a matter of belief (117). Some kind of faith must exist in a politician, ''otherwise it is absolutely true that the curse of the creature's worthlessness overshadows even the externally strongest political successes'' (117).
Then is a discussion of two ethics, the ethic of ultimate ends and the ethic of responsibility. They are fundamentally different and irreconcilably opposed. The ethic of ultimate ends, formulated in religious terms, is: ''The Christian does rightly and leaves the results with the Lord.'' If an action of good intention leads to bad results, then, in the actor's eyes, not he, but the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God's will who made them thus, is responsible for the evil. The ethic of responsibility, on the other hand, requires one to give an account of the foreseeable results of one's action. The man who believes in an ethic of responsibility takes into account precisely the average deficiencies of people. He does not feel in a position to burden others with the results of his own actions so far as he was able to foresee them; he will say, these results are ascribed to my action. On the other hand, the ultimate ends dude feels a ''responsibility'' only to keep his intentions good.
In many cases, the attainment of good ends is bound up with the price of using morally dubious or dangerous means, and must face the possibility of evil ramifications. From no ethics in the world can it be concluded when and to what extent a good ends justifies ethically dangerous means and ramifications. (121) The ethics of absolutism goes to pieces on the problem of justification of means by ends. Everything that is striven for through political action operating with violent means and following an ethic of responsibility endangers the salvation of the soul. If, however, on chases after the ultimate good in a war of beliefs, following a pure ethic of absolute ends, then the goals may be damaged and discredited for generations because responsibility for consequences is lacking. A man following an ethic of responsibility will arise at a place where he must say, Here I stand; I can do no other. Here, the ethic of ultimate ends and the ethic of responsibility are supplements, which only in unison constitute a genuine man, a man who can have the calling for politics (127).
MAX WEBER: The Social Psychology of the World Religions
The world religions, to Max, are Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, and they are chosen because they have a large number of followers, and for no other reason. He will also consider Judaism, since it is an important precursor to Christianity and Islam and because of its significance for the development of the economic ethic of the West.
The term 'economic ethic' points to the practical impulses for action which are founded in the psychological and pragmatic contexts of religion. The religious determination of life conduct is only one of the determinants of the economic ethic. The religiously determined way of life is itself profoundly influenced by economic and political factors.
Those strata which are decisive in stamping the characteristic features of an economic ethic may change in the course of history; nevertheless, as a rule one may determine the strata whose styles of life have been at least predominately decisive for certain religions. For example, Confucianism was the status ethic of prebendaries, men with literary educations who were characterized by a secular rationalism. Christianity began its course as a doctrine of itinerant artisan journeymen. It is not the case for Weber that ''the ruling ideas of any epoch are the ideas of the ruling classes,'' however. And, however incisive the social influences, economically and politically determined, may have been upon a religious ethic in a particular case, it receives its stamp primarily from religious sources, and most predominantly from the content of its annunciation and promise.
One of the foci of religious ethics has been the evaluation of suffering. By treating suffering as a symptom of secret guilt and of a crime in the sight of G/god/s, religion has psychologically met a very important need. The fortunate is seldom satisfied with the fact of being fortunate. Beyond this, he needs to know that he has a right to his good fortune. Good fortune wants to be legitimate fortune. Religion provides the theodicy of good fortune for those who are fortunate.
Salvation religions are religions of suffering. Under the pressure of typical and ever-recurrent distress, the religiosity of a 'redeemer' evolved. This religiosity presupposed the myth of a savior, hence (at least relatively) a rational view of the world. In Judaism, the term messiah was originally attached to the saviours from political distress, as transmitted by the hero sagas. In Judaism, and in this clear-cut fashion only in it and under very particular other conditions, the suffering of a people's community, rather than the suffering of an individual, became the object of hope for religious salvation. The usual rule was that the savior bore an individual and universal character at the same time that he was ready to guarantee salvation to the individual and to any individual who would turn to him.
The tribal and local gods, gods of the city and the empire, have taken care only of the interests that concern the collectivity as a whole. In the community cult, the community as such turned to its god. The individual, however, turned to the sorcerer and magician for help with his personal evils. Hereditary dynasties of mystagogues or trained personnel under a head determined in accordance with certain rules developed. Collective religious arrangements for individual suffering per se, and for salvation from it, originated in this fashion. The typical service of magicians and priests becomes the determination of the factors to be blamed for suffering; that is, the confession of sins. Where religious development was decisively influenced by prophecy, sin was no longer merely a magical offense: it was a sign of disbelief in the prophet and his commandments.
While prophets have not generally been descendants of depressed classes, it has generally been the depressed classes who need a redeemer. Thus, most prophetically announced religious of redemption have been located in the less-favored social strata. For these, such religiosity has been either a substitute for, or a rational supplement to, magic.
The need for an ethical interpretation of suffering and of the meaning of the distribution of fortunes among men increased with the growing rationality of conceptions of the world. There have been three rationally satisfactory answers to questions about the basis of the incongruity between destiny and merit: Karma, dualism (from Zoroastrianism) and the predestination decree of the deus abscondidus (the absconded god; kind of a cool phrase). These solutions are rationally closed, and are found in pure form only as exceptions.
Ecstatic states (orgies, quietistic edification, contemplative mortification, etc) have been sought first of all, for the sake of the emotional value they offered the devout. Rationalized religions have sublimated the orgy into the sacrament. Every hierocratic and official authority of a church fights against virtuoso religion and its autonomous development. The church is the holder of institutionalized grace, and seeks to organize the religiosity of the masses.
The kind of empirical state of bliss or experience of rebirth that is sought after as the supreme value by a religion has varied according to the character of the stratum that was foremost in adopting it. The conception of the idea of redemption is very old, if one understands by it a liberation from sickness, hunger, etc., ultimately from suffering and death. However, redemption attained a specific significance only where it expressed a systematic and rationalized image of the world and represented a stand in the face of the world. Not ideas, but material and ideal interests, directly govern men's conduct. Yet very frequently the world images that have been created by ideas have, like switchmen, determined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the dynamic of interest. From what and for what one wished to be redeemed, and let us not forget, could be redeemed, depended upon one's image of the world.
Behind every religion lies a stand toward something in the actual world which is experienced as specifically senseless. Thus, the demand has been implied: the world order, in its totality, could, and should somehow be a meaningful cosmos. The various great ways of leading a rational and methodical life have been characterized by irrational presuppositions, which have been accepted simply as given and incorporated into life. What these presuppositions have been is historically and socially determined, to a very large extent, through the peculiarity of those strata that have been the carriers of the ways of life during its formative and decisive period. The interest situation of these strata, as determined socially and psychologically, has made for their peculiarity.
Where prophecy has provided a religious basis, this basis could be one of two fundamental types of prophesy: exemplary and emissary. Exemplary prophesy points the way to salvation by exemplary living (usually contemplative and apathetic-ecstatic ways of life). Emissary prophesy addresses its demands to the world in the name of a god. These demands are ethical, and often of an active acetic character.
The civic strata, conditioned by the nature of their life, which is greatly detached from economic bonds to nature, tend toward a practical rationalism in conduct. Their whole existence has been based on technological or economic calculations and upon the mastery of nature and man. These strata tend toward religions of active asceticism. Wherever the direction of the whole way of life has been methodically rationalized, it has been profoundly determined by the ultimate values toward which this rationalism has been directed.
All kinds of practical ethics that are systematically and unambiguously oriented toward fixed goals of salvation are rational, partly in the same sense as formal method is rational, and partly in the sense that they distinguish between valid norms and what is empirically given.
All ruling powers need legitimacy, which comes in three kinds...
In the main, it has been the work of jurists to give birth to modern Western states, as well as modern Western churches. Jurists work in the realm of formal rationalization, they follow procedures, etc. With the triumph of formalistic (rather than substantive) juristic rationalism, the legal type of domination appeared in the West.