Weber, although touching on other religions and countries, specifically focuses on the Reformation and its correlation to the dominance of capitalism in Western civilizations. He centers his work on the thesis ‘that the chances of overcoming traditionalism are greatest on account of the religious upbringing’, thus ‘it is worthwhile to ask how this connection of adaptability to capitalism with religious factors occurred in the early days of capitalism(1).’ This break with tradition could be attributed to the ‘calling’ as depicted in the Protestant faith. Weber believes Protestants saw the ‘calling’ as finally sanctifying the earning of a profit and as a sign of salvation. In this, he saw a breaking of the ‘backward-sloping supply curve’ for labor by instilling a new work ethic and the bringing forth of capitalistic values. Amintore Fanfani in his critical work “Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism” disagrees with Weber on the role Protestantism played in the development of capitalism.
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Weber didn’t prose a general theory of religion but focused on the interaction between society and religion. Weber believed that one must understand the role of religious emotions in causing ideal types such as capitalism. He explained the shift in Europe from the other worldliness of Catholicism to the worldliness of early Protestantism; according to Weber this was what initiated the capitalist economic system. As he mentioned in his book The Protestant Ethic and the spirit of capitalism, capitalism isn’t about being rich. Weber said that there was a connection between religions.
Heimann, Eduard, Reason and Faith in Modern Society: Liberalism, Marxism, and Democracy. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1961, 154. 9. Miller, Alexander, The Christian Significance of Karl Marx. London: Northumberland Press, 1946, 21.
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Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Translated by George Lawrence and edited by J.P. Mayer. New York: Harper Perennial, 1998.