The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions

By Thorstein Veblen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII

DEVOUT OBSERVANCES

A DISCURSIVE rehearsal of certain incidents of modern life will show the organic relation of the anthropomorphic cults to the barbarian culture and temperament. It will likewise serve to show how the survival and efficacy of the cults and the prevalence of their schedule of devout observances are related to the institution of a leisure class and to the springs of action underlying that institution. Without any intention to commend or to deprecate the practices to be spoken of under the head of devout observances, or the spiritual and intellectual traits of which these observances are the expression, the everyday phenomena of current anthropomorphic cults may be taken up from the point of view of the interest which they have for economic theory. What can properly be spoken of here are the tangible, external features of devout observances. The moral, as well as the devotional value of the life of faith lies outside of the scope of the present inquiry. Of course no question is here entertained as to the truth or beauty of the creeds on which the cults proceed. And even their remoter economic bearing can not be taken up here; the subject is too recondite and of too grave import to find a place in so slight a sketch.

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