Read e-book online The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfillment in Early Modern PDF

By Keith Thomas

ISBN-10: 0199247234

ISBN-13: 9780199247233

Hailed as "immediately and universally well-known as indispensable" (TLS) and "compellingly readable, richly researched, fascinatingly certain, delightfully written" (LRB), here's a masterful exploration of the ways that humans sought to steer pleasing lives, illuminating the principal values of early sleek England, whereas casting incidental mild on a number of the perennial difficulties of human lifestyles. Keith Thomas, one of many greatest historians of our time, sheds gentle at the origins of the fashionable perfect of human success and explores the numerous hindrances to its awareness, taking a look at paintings, wealth, possessions, friendship, relations, and sociability. The e-book seems to be on the cult of army prowess, the pursuit of honor and acceptance, the character of non secular trust, and the need to be posthumously remembered. The Ends of Life bargains a clean method of the background of early smooth England, offering glossy readers with a lot nutrients for proposal at the challenge of ways we must always dwell and what pursuits in lifestyles we must always pursue.

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The prevailing social theory subordinated the claims of personal development to what were thought to be the needs of the social order. But that social theory was a poor guide to the way in which many people of the time actually behaved. Contemporary prescriptions were repeatedly flouted or ignored; and the search by men and women for personal fulfilment is abundantly evident in the decisions and choices they made in their daily lives. Most people may have lacked autonomy, in the sense that they did not choose for themselves their values or their plan of life.

The opportunities on offer to the poorest sections of the population—labourers, cottagers, and their families—were highly restricted. They had to seek subsistence where they could find it. A formidable combination of guild ordinances, apprenticeship laws, and poor law regulations severely limited the ability of individuals to take up whatever form of employment they fancied; and their inherent aptitudes and interests can seldom have been a determining consideration. In the middling ranks, there was more scope for personal preference, but options were normally restricted by parents’ resources and their network of acquaintance.

Hence the famous assertion by the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97) that, in the Middle Ages, ‘man was conscious of * The eminent ancient historian Arnaldo Momigliano (1908–87) remarked that ‘it is my impression that Greek and Roman historians, and especially biographers, talk about individuals in a manner which is not distinct from our own’; The Category of the Person, ed. Michael Carrithers et al. (Cambridge, 1985), 89. * From at least the twelfth century, there is clear evidence, at least among the knightly and clerical classes, for a belief in the physical and mental singularity of individuals.

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The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfillment in Early Modern England by Keith Thomas


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