1887

n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Calvyn se etiek van die sosiaal-ekonomiese lewe s

Volume 49, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0041-4751

Abstract

Teen die agtergrond van die middeleeuse Rooms-Katolieke devaluering van hande-arbeid en in reaksie tot die statiese stande-gelaagdheid daarvan, het Calvyn 'n pleitrede gevoer vir 'n herwaardering van die koopmansstand en van die plek van die ekonomiese sektor van die samelewing binne 'n koninkryksperspektief daarop. Enersyds was daar talle misstande en bedenklike praktyke in swang in Italië en andersyds het die Roomse kerk nog 'n groot mag gehad oor die samelewing - met betrekking tot die ekonomiese sektor veral deur die instandhouding van die rente-verbod. Nie alleen het Calvyn die hiërargiese samelewingsbeskouing van die middeleeue ondergrawe nie, maar tegelyk ook nuwe moontlikhede geopen vir die opbloei van ekonomiese aktiwiteite met sy pleit vir die opheffing van die rente-verbod. In Genève het hy uit hoofde van sy bediening allerlei praktiese voorstelle gemaak, soos die verlening van gratis doktershulp aan armes; die prysvasstelling van brood, wyn en vleis; die reglementering van arbeidsduur; die verpligting om laerskool onderwys te volg; die geneeskundige behandeling van invalides en siekes; openbare werke en herskoling van werkloses; hulp aan verbygaande vreemdelinge; instituering van die diakonaat; en 'n verbod op bedelary omdat daarvoor in Genève geen rede meer bestaan het nie. Die prysvasstelling van brood, wyn en vleis dui op die noodsaaklike lewensbehoeftes in die tyd wat veroorsaak is deur die voortdurende styging van die pryse wat daartoe gelei het dat die mindergegoedes gebrek begin ly het (Calvyn het dus in 'n tyd van inflasie geleef).


Against the background of the medieval Roman Catholic depreciation of manual labour and the flourishing of trade and commerce this article portrays the contrast between the traditional static medieval hierarchical understanding of society and the approach of Calvin. The said depreciation of manual labour is aptly captured in a medieval legend where we learn of a person who found demons in every nook and cranny in a monastery, but surprisingly only one demon was found on a tower in the marketplace. When the person mentioned was surprised, a cleric responded by explaining that there is a greater need for demons in a monastery because many are needed to seduce the monks. At the marketplace however, one is more than sufficient, because everyone there is already a devil! This legend shows clearly how the medieval tradition devaluated the mercantile estate. This under-evaluation took its stance alongside a new appreciation of the self-esteem of human beings. However, the latter was accompanied by an increasing anarchy and immorality which indeed made Christians hesitant to participate in the horrible practices of this domain of life. By avoiding being a merchant one is not threatened by temptations. Add to this that the medieval view of society as an organic whole, where every sector of life had its well-assigned and properly integrated place, did not really contribute to the development of a constructive and dynamic economic life. The estate of merchants was kept in place by the doctrine of the "fair price." The system of guilds also did not allow for fair competition. However, breaking through this static establishment soon generated a cold and calculated rationalistic attitude towards life where even personal affairs were treated in economic terms - such as where a difference of opinion between two merchants led to an inscription that that person's life is owed, followed by a subsequent credit inscription: "Debt paid."

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/content/akgees/49/3/EJC20149
2009-09-01
2019-12-08

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