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Inner-worldly asceticism

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Title: Inner-worldly asceticism  
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Subject: Max Weber, Economy and Society, Asceticism, Seduction community, Sociology of religion
Collection: Asceticism, Max Weber, Sociology of Religion
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Inner-worldly asceticism

Inner-worldly asceticism was characterized by Max Weber in Economy and Society as the concentration of human behavior upon activities leading to salvation within the context of the everyday world.[1]

He saw it as a prime influence in the emergence of modernity and the technological world,[2] a point developed in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.


  • Four-fold typology 1
  • Rationalism 2
  • Criticism 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Four-fold typology

Weber's typology of religion set off the distinction between asceticism and mysticism against that between inner-worldly and other-worldly orientations, to produce a four-fold set of religious types.[3][4] According to Talcott Parsons, otherwordly stances provided no leverage upon socio-economic problems, and inner-worldly mystics attached no significance to the material world surrounding them,[5] the inner-worldly ascetic acted within the institutions of the world, while being opposed to them, and as an instrument of God. However Stefan Zaleski showed that inner-worldly mysticism that is magic was interested in active transformation of reality.[4]

In religions which can be characterized by inner-world-asceticim, the world appears to the religious virtuoso as his responsibility.[6]


For Weber, the worldly ascetic is a rationalist. He rationalizes his own conduct but also rejects conduct which is specifically irrational, esthetic, or dependent upon his own emotional reactions to the world.[7]

Inner-worldly asceticism, including above all [10]


  • Critics have challenged the validity of Weber's linking of Calvinism, and predestination in particular, with the emergence of the capitalist spirit;[11] as well as disputing more generally any inherent or correlative link between Protestantism and capitalism.[12]
  • Postmodernism in its repudiation of metanarratives[13] has rejected Weber's theory as one (Eurocentric) aspect of such grand tales;[14] though Fredric Jameson sees it as illuminating at least one facet of the bourgeois cultural revolution[15] - the psycho-sociological transformation that accompanied the move from traditional agrarian society to the modern urban world-system.

See also


  1. ^ G. R. Elton, Reformation Europe (1969) p. 278
  2. ^ John O'Neill, Sociology as a Skin Trade (1972) p. 14 and p. 60
  3. ^ Talcott Parsons, Introduction, Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion (1971) p. li
  4. ^ a b Pawel Stefan Zaleski "Ideal Types in Max Weber’s Sociology of Religion: Some Theoretical Inspirations for a Study of the Religious Field", Polish Sociological Review No. 3(171)/2010
  5. ^ Parsons, p. li-lii
  6. ^ Weber, Max. "Asceticism, Mysticism and Salvation." In Economy and society; an outline of interpretive sociology.. New York: Bedminster Press, 1968. 542.
  7. ^ Weber, Max. "Asceticism, Mysticism and Salvation." In Economy and society; an outline of interpretive sociology.. New York: Bedminster Press, 1968. 544.
  8. ^ David Owen, Maturity and Modernity (1994) p. 11-7
  9. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 528
  10. ^ Weber, Sociology p. 183 and p. lix
  11. ^ Guy Oakes, 'The Thing That Would Not Die: Notes on Refutation' in H. Lehman/G. Roth eds, Weber's Protestant Ethic (1995)
  12. ^ Elton, p. 312-8
  13. ^ R. Appiganesi/C. Garratt, Postmodernism for Beginners (1995) p. 102
  14. ^ Lehmann, p. 5
  15. ^ M. Hardt/K. Weeks, The Jameson Reader (2005) p. 51

Further reading

  • Christopher Hill, 'Protestantism and the Rise of Capitalism', in Change and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century England (1974)
  • P. C. Gordon Walker, “Capitalism and the Reformation” Economic History Review Nov 1937
  • R. W. Green ed., Protestantism and Capitalism: The Weber Thesis and its Critics (1959)

External links

  • Deferred Gratification
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