Weber V. Diamond

Topics: Protestant Reformation, Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Pages: 2 (543 words) Published: March 14, 2013
Jared Diamond and Max Weber both are trying to answer the same question. How did the west become so dominate? Even though they both ask the same question they have very different theories as to how this came about. Weber has a very straight forward religious/cultural view on his theory whereas; diamond believes it all started with geography which lead to economic development. Weber’s argument is that capitalism flourished when the protestant (particularly Calvinism) ethic encouraged large numbers of people to engage and work in the secular world, developing their enterprises and using their wealth to invest back into their business. He defines spirit of capitalism as the ideas and habits that favor the rational pursuit of economic gain. Capitalism was not the goal for the protestant reformation but yet an unplanned byproduct. On the other hand, Diamond is trying to explain why the west dominated over other cultures by means of superior guns, population destroying germs, steel, and food producing capability. Agriculture and record keeping lead to the development of technology, science, and advanced government which gave the west its economic development over other parts of the world.

No theory is completely solid, that’s why it’s called a theory and not a law. Diamond and Weber both have legitimate and plausible theories as to why the west became so dominate but both of the arguments have substantial shortcomings. I see the validity in Weber’s argument but I see arguments that could be made against it as well. One is that capitalism was a growing force before the Reformation and that it would have thrived as well under Catholicism as under Protestantism and two that the driving force behind capitalism was not ascetic views but rationality. The Chinese were becoming a far more dominate force than Europe especially in maritime exploration but after the death of Emperor Zheng He they withdrew from maritime exploration and focused on their own country. Granted in...
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