Max Weber (Transl. by: Oleg Kil'dyushov 1 )
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

The First Anti-Criticism on the “Spirit of Capitalism”

2023, vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 85–107 [issue contents]
A polemical article by the classic of sociology Max Weber in the genre of “anti-criticism” contains his response to a series of critical publications by the principal German historian Felix Rachfahl. As a specialist in the history of the Dutch Revolution in the second half of the 16th century, Rachfahl wrote five articles under the general title “Calvinism and Protestantism” that he sought to rebut Weber’s views on the genesis of capitalism from the spirit of the Puritan work ethic. In a rather harsh retort, Weber in turn tries to show the reader the entire inconsistency of Rachfal’s criticism. On the whole, he assesses the discussion as unfair on the part of his opponent and, therefore, as insufficient from the point of view of the subject itself — the cultural significance of the Protestant economic ethics for the emergence of the capitalist economy of the modern type. He accuses Rachfal of deliberately distorting both Weber’s own argument and the views of his friend and colleague, the eminent theologian and church historian E. Troelch. In attempting to defend his arguments advanced in the articles in the series “Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism”, Weber rhetorically chooses an extremely aggressive tone, while allowing a number of insulting epithets to the recognized expert in his field. His general strategy in the polemic is aimed at discrediting the criticizing historian himself as a typical representative of a related academic discipline, clearly exceeding the limits of his competence. At the same time, Weber assigns the role of objective arbiter in this dispute to his reader, urging him to perceive the arguments put forward impartially. Weber concludes by claiming that Rachfal’s lengthy critique is so off-target that he need not change a single word in his writings.
Citation: Weber M. (2023) Antikritika-I po povodu «dukha» kapitalizma [The first anti-criticism on the «Spirit of capitalism»]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 22, no 2, pp. 85-107 (in Russian)
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