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Andrei Teslya   1
  • 1 Pacific National University, 136 Tihookeanskaya Street, Khabarovsk, 680035, Russia

The Protestant Ethic in the Russian Context: Peter Struve and Sergey Bulgakov Read Max Weber (1907–1909)

2019, vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 107–119 [issue contents]
The paper focuses on two Russian interpretations of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the first written by Peter Struve, whose reaction on Weber’s research was among the first in Russia, and the second by Sergey Bulgakov, who attempted a reinterpretation of Weber’s concepts with their subsequent application to the conditions of Imperial Russia. It is widely known that Max Weber had a number of well-educated readers in Russia. The first was Bogdan Kistiakowsky who was directly connected with Weber’s academic circle through his teacher, the prominent German jurist Georg Jellinek. Yet, this paper addresses the reflections of other intellectuals who belonged to the generation born in 1870s, including Peter Struve and Sergei Bulgakov and their younger fellows such as Semyon Frank who joined this intellectual circle through his older friend and supporter, Peter Struve. Despite the fact that Weber’s The Protestant Ethic did not cause intense intellectual debates in Russia during 1906–1910, Struve and Bulgakov were those who responded to the main arguments, providing two views on this classic book. Peter Struve proceeds from the premise of the loss by modern Christianity (both Western and Eastern) of an effective, real faith in the Resurrection, and the consequent impossibility of true religious community. As a result, Christianity turns out to be an asceticism exercised outside this world. Bulgakov’s analysis interprets the Weberian concept as a general model of the “deep idealistic enthusiasm” influence on economic life, and translates this reasoning into a pragmatic plane, that is, into the possibility of economic “pedagogics” and the rise of a “spirit” of a new economy as an alternative to capitalism.
Citation: Teslya A. (2019) The Protestant Ethic in the Russian Context: Peter Struve and Sergey Bulgakov Read Max Weber (1907–1909). The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 18, no 2, pp. 107-119
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