Barzun on Weber

"Facts from the Protestant side itself refute [Weber's] thesis: both Luther and Calvin attacked profit-making and deplored 'the materialism of the age.'" -- From Dawn to Decadence, p. 37

Shocking, just shocking. Does a single critic of Weber even know what he said? Because Weber was very, very, explicit that he was not contending that either Luther or Calvin was trying to promote capitalism, and that it was an accidental by-product of their doctrines.

It's as though everyone has only heard "Weber said Protestantism promoted capitalism," didn't bother to read his book, and filled in their own idea of what he must have meant!


  1. Anonymous4:58 AM

    Do you feel that academics debate in the blind a good deal of the time, often criticising opponents based on what third parties said those people think? Instead of looking up firsthand what anyone said?

    Given how frequently you cover this topic, it sounds like it is pervasive.

  2. It is pervasive, and not easy to avoid. No one has the time to read everyone, nor the knowledge of languages to read everyone in the original. Consider Barzun: he is now 104 years old. When he wrote that book, I think he was in his 90s. How is he supposed to even recall if he read Weber or just read about Weber, say, 65 years ago?

    (I am obviously now in a more forgiving mood vis-a-vis this error than I was when I wrote my post!)


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