Weber may have been ready to accept the relativity of values, even if he did so with some reluctance and in a fatalist mood. But we cannot blame him for failing to anticipate our modern tilt into the relativity of facts, which has robbed us of any confidence that in our political disputes we at least agree on what the facts are. Nor can he be blamed if he held fast to the heroic ideal of work as a calling. When one reads Weber today, it is difficult to overcome the impression that this ideal has lost much of its prestige, not least because many politicians (and not a few scholars) seem moved more by a longing for fame than a deeply felt belief in the integrity of their task. Weber’s idea of a calling embodies a paradox: it is a trace of religion in a nonreligious world. But we have passed beyond the last threshold of disenchantment, and even that final ideal now threatens to fall into total eclipse.
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