Wednesday, 18 February 2009


After quoting the archangel Michael's Miltonic talk to Adam, Max Weber opines:
Anyone can sense immediately that this mightiest expression of earnest Puritan worldliness, that is, valuing life as a task to be accomplished, would have been impossible in the mouth of a medieval writer.

Speaking in the full knowledge of the extent to which Weber's protestant ethic has shaped my own upbringing and worldview, I wonder whether the accuracy of this statement doesn't depend on how we define 'task'. In productive, material (let's say: capitalist) terms, Weber is right. But there are many varieties of tasks, not all of them material, and some of these would have been wholly consonant with a number of medieval worldviews.

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