Weber 2 2010

More on PESC

  1. The idea of "a calling" — a life-task — is peculiar to Protestants.
  2. Further: idea of value of fulfilling of duty in worldly affairs as highest form of moral activity.
    1. Accept what God has decided!
    2. All you can do is work hard IN THIS WORLD.
    3. Cf. Catholic notion of trying to surpass worldly morality by monastic asceticism
    4. Salvation by faith alone.
  3. Version 1.0 (pre-Calvin) : worldly no longer subordinate to otherworldly asceticism
  4. This style of thinking evolved as one sect gave rise to another in the history of the reformation
  5. Extremely strong motivation to work out strategies for the salvation of the soul. Once you displace the notion that you can "work" or "buy" your way to goodness, what does one tell folks to do?
  6. Calvin, predestination
    1. Humans cannot influence God
    2. Salvation dependent on God alone and neither you nor friends nor church can do anything about it
    3. Radically disempowering.
    4. Radically lonely
  7. TAKES THE MAGIC OUT OF THE WORLD: dis-enchantment
  8. Result : FEAR
  9. NOTE: result here is not the invention of rationalism and rationalization. Rather, it is the attachment of rationalism to one's moral life, and, reciprocally, the attachment of moral values to rationality.
  10. Pastoral advice
    1. Consider yourself saved, combat self-doubt as work of devil, doubt = lack of faith
    2. Intense worldly activity as means to self-confidence
    3. Good work(s) do not increase your chances, but they are a sign of being in the elect
    4. The Catholic can periodically confess and return to grace, make a big alms donation and feel good until the next sin.
    5. The Protestant is put in the position of having to organize her entire life as good act
    6. Every indulgence, every slip up, was not something that would have to be confessed but rather a sign that one was not in fact going to heaven. The better one got, the more particular one had to be about watching out for mistakes.
    7. Calvinism had a logic too it and it was psychologically very powerful
    8. Weber then examines several sects and how they modulated Calvinist/Lutheran idea
    9. Pietism: if one pushes the asceticism enough, one can create a visible community of the elect on earth. Push for even more intense development of one's "state of grace"
    10. Methodism: notion of rebirth and giving oneself passionately to the task of the rationalized struggle for perfection
    11. Baptism: notion of born again and availability of spirit to all (but all do not accept) and more explicit turning away from excess and enjoyments.
  11. Puritans etc. — eschew possession and excess as opportunity for devil to do his work. Progressively more rigidity and uniformity
  12. Cf. how folks get about dieting. Now add eternal damnation as consequence.
  13. DJR: They got moralistic about everyday life…
  14. Two directions for asceticism available
  15. Inner/active where you go about your business but you are constantly up to something, mastering the world in fulfilling your calling


Politics as a Vocation

Ethic of Responsibility vs. Ethic of Ultimate Ends [Politics as a Vocation]
Contrast ethic of ultimate ends [as when one says] 'The Christian does rightly and leaves the results with the Lord' [and an] ethic of responsibility, in which case one has to give an account of the foreseeable results of one's action."

  • Ultimate Ends - attention to intentions

*Responsibility - attention to possible outcomes, takes into account average deficiencies of people, realistic.

In a sense, Weber is arguing that the former belongs in the realm of religion and the latter in politics. "He who seeks the salvation of the soul, of his own and of others, should not seek it along the avenue of politics, for the quite different tasks of politics can only be solved by violence." Compare Pareto here. Weber is really making an impassioned plea that people realize that politics is a task/profession that is wrought with ethical difficulty.

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, one 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, and two dialbolic forces which enter the play remain unknown to the actor. Age is not decisive; what is decisive is the trained relentlessness in viewing the realities of life, and the ability to face such realities and to measure up to them inwardly.
“Politics as a Vocation”
[Peripenultimate page]

Notes on "Politics as Vocation" from UChicago grad student notes archive

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