Upcoming talk: “Max Weber and Religion of China: Enchantment, Life, and World as Method”


912 Sproul Hall

Professor Chunjie Zhang (UC Davis German), Monday, June 3 at 12:00 p.m. in 912 Sproul

German Colloquium Series

The German thinker Max Weber is well known for his thesis in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904/1905) regarding the unique intimacy between the Protestant work ethic and the emergence of industrial capitalism in the West. Weber’s magnum opus The Economic Ethic of the World Religions (1920), which includes the treatise on Protestantism and a treatise on Chinese Confucianism and Daoism, tends to be discussed primarily from political, economic, and sociological perspectives and to be deemed Eurocentric in its assumptions and methodology. I propose that we can more productively read this work as Weber’s comparative philosophy of life seeking both the meaning of being and liberation from Protestant rationalism. Such an approach allows us to see surprising affinities between Weber’s magnum opus and the notion of the care of the self as formulated by Michel Foucault in the 1980s.