Ellipsis Omnibus

Disillusioned but not disenchanted…

Marx & Weber

Born in the mid-nineteenth century, Max Weber was a German sociologist and political scientist. Much of his philosophy is centered around the concepts of social economics as well as the sociology of religion and government. Some of his major works include Economy and Society and The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. He was born the son of a lawyer, was highly involved in politics, and served for a short time in the military where he served as a director in a military hospital.

Apart from analyzing Christianity and Protestantism in reference to the economic side of society, Weber also analyzed the Chinese religions of Confucianism and Taoism, the Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as Judaism. In terms of religion, one of Weber’s main themes was the relation between religion and economics, such as the relation between the different religions and the wealth of its members, primarily in the capitalist world. Weber believed that Christians have generally fought against the desire for wealth. The ideas of staying away from greed and of full out capitalism do not fully mesh, and this was something that Weber looked at, finding that the Protestants had ideas of a rational pursuit of economics.

In terms of politics, Weber defined the state as the entity which had a legitimate monopoly upon the use of physical force. The government is focused upon the distribution of power and of force. Beyond this, Weber believed that the average Christian is not the ideal politician due to ethics. Rather, Weber denoted three main types of leaders: the charismatic leader, the traditional leader such as the patriarch, and legal leader such as a bureaucrat. This is also a social evolution model, growing form the first to the third.

Karl Marx also wrote of religion and politics, but more from the realm of alienation and how to overcome it. Such ways of overcoming alienation occur outside of the workplace, focusing on simply giving people a way of self-actualizing without needing to be directly tied to their product. A major type of self-actualizer is religion. Religion offers individuals of any background a way of self-actualizing, of feeling that they have some greater purpose in life apart from or even including what may be a monotonous and seemingly meaningless job. It goes on to create a familial or communal atmosphere which creates a sense of belonging for the individual, thereby overcoming alienation.

Works Cited

Kaelber, Lutz. “Max Weber.” http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/research/weberpersonal.html
(04/02/09)
Takacs, Christopher. “Max Weber.” http://ssr1.uchicago.edu/PRELIMS/Theory/weber.html
(04/02/09)

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"This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it... It is by not thinking that we cease to wonder at it."--Thomas Carlyle, 'On Heroes & Hero Worship'
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