II.B. The vocation at work

Max Weber, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904–1905), shows how work has become a fundamental value of the Protestant religion.

The only way to live in a manner pleasing to God is not to overcome the morality of secular life by monastic asceticism, but exclusively to fulfill in the world the duties corresponding to the place that existence assigns to the individual in society[Lebensstellung], duties that thus become his “vocation”[Beruf].
This idea developed in Luther during the first decade of his reforming activity

Martin Luther (1483–1546) in translating the Bible gives the word Beruf (“work”) a new meaning: “vocation”. “The fulfillment of professional work in the world is for him the outward expression of love for one’s neighbor” and therefore the only way to please God is to work. Work is then defined as a vocation of man.

Beliefs and myths have thus forced the values of work and the consideration of men towards it.

According to Greek and Latin beliefs, work is indeed a necessary and painful process, from which it is better to escape by seeking leisure.

Myths and religion have given work a new dimension, showing how beneficial work can be, through the development of nature and as a sign of divine election.

Work is thus defined mainly as an activity that is likely to cause suffering, but that is open to benefits, insofar as it modifies nature, in its broadest sense. How does this work confront nature? This question is the question of the second chapter devoted to work.

Course on work: Work between myths and beliefs

I. A. Work is opposed to leisure

I. B. Slavery as a means of freedom from work

II. A. Work allows men to survive and progress