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Weber and the advent of the new

Distinguishing between the old and the new and analyzing the transition from the former to the latter are challenges that acquired unparalleled centrality in Max Weber's sociology of religion. This article examines how Weber dealt with these challenges and the inherent difficulties in his approach. For Weber, the transition from the old to the new necessarily requires something like a "transformation of man's soul" - or a spectacular break with supposedly traditional mindsets. The argument is that this conceptualization led him to see nonexistent breaks (for example, between the Lutheran and Calvinist mentalities) and to fail to perceive important breaks (for example, between present-day tolerance and that of former ages). By way of conclusion, the article contends that there is an analogy between Weber's sociology of religion and Aristotelian physics, and that Weber's view that historically significant transitions require a "transformation of man's soul" can be better understood in light of this analogy.

sociology of religion; Weberian thought; traditionalism; Protestant sectarianism and religious tolerance


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