Monday, July 5, 2010

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Filesharing

"Without examining all the directions in which Puritanism exercised influence, let us just recall that the degree of toleration afforded to pleasure in cultural products serving purely aesthetic or sporting indulgence was limited by one characteristic factor: they must not cost anything. Man was merely the steward of the gifts granted him by God's grace; he, like the wicked servant in the Bible, must give an account of every penny, and it is at the very least dubious whether he should expend any of this money for a purpose which serves not God's glory, but his own pleasure. Which of us with eyes to see has not met people of this persuasion right up to our own time? The idea of the obligation of man to the possessions entrusted to him, to which he subordinates himself as servant and steward or even as 'moneymaking machine,' lies on life with its chill weight."

— Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the "Spirit" of Capitalism, trans. Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells, 115