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Religion and the Rise of Capitalism

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ClassGraphic In this study group, we will discuss the fascinating relationship between Protestantism and Capitalism which has largely been defined by American culture as we know it. In Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (Vintage Books, 2021) Benjamin Friedman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, argues that the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) might be the most important person you have never heard of. Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in 1776, but there is no way a scientific study of the centrality of markets could have emerged under the prescripts of John Calvin’s deterministic, and highly pessimistic, view of human nature. Arminius rejected orthodox views of predestination and instead focused on the power of human agency to improve human conditions. We will explore how this helped to set the foundation for modern economic thought and the study of Economics. Friedman traces the development of these ideas throughout the history of the West and using his work as our guide, we will examine how the ideas of virtue and morality are deeply intermingled with wealth, poverty, and commerce. Arminius, unknowingly, helped to foreshadow a world in which the market and other secular institutions would supersede the belief of God as the primary mechanism to improve human prospects. If you find this argument interesting, this is your study group.

Class Details

14 Session(s)
Weekly - Tue

500 Davis Center

MultipleInstructor :
1.Calvin Mouw2.Sergio de los Reyes3.Gordon Mallett 



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Schedule Information

Date(s) Class Days Times Location Instructor(s)
3/7/2023 - 6/6/2023 Weekly - Tue 09:45 AM - 11:45 AM Evanston, 500 Davis Center  Map Gordon Mallett  ; Sergio de los Reyes  ; Calvin Mouw 
/*NOV 14 2020*/