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Eigengesetzlichkeit: The Relationship between Religion and Politics in India and in the Occident**I wish to thank Peter Flügel and Sam Whimster for their comments and suggestions regarding my paper.


Andreas Buss

Max Weber’s studies of Asian traditions were intended to further a better understanding of the Occident. They may also have contributed to comparative concept building. The analysis starts from Weber’s comments on the lack of a universally valid ethic in classical India, on conflicting ethics and the sources of Indian law, the secularization of the political domain and particularly the ethics of the kṣatriyas (warriors), seen as power politics and warfare: their svadharma. Weber’s perhaps overstated view of the Indian situation, resulting, as it may be conjectured, from his desire to find a paradigm for the situation in Germany, led him to the formulation of the concept of Eigengesetzlichkeit. Its several meanings and its various English translations are discussed. Once formulated, the concept was then used by Weber himself and by his contemporaries with regard to the ‘battle of the gods’: the tension between and then the separation of the religious and the political domain in the Western tradition since Antiquity and then in the Lutheran Germany of his time.


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