The quote here is from the book “The Technological Society” by Jacques Ellul, a French philosopher and sociologist who was known for his critical views on technology and it’s impact on society.
“The old dream that has tempted man from the beginning, the medieval legend of the man who sells his soul for an inexhaustible purse, which recurs with an enticing insistence through all the changes of civilization, is perhaps in process of being realized, and not a for a single man but all” — Jacques Ellul
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In this quote, Ellul is suggesting that the idea of “selling one’s soul” for a magical inexhaustible purse, a theme that has appeared in literature and folklore throughout history, may be becoming a reality in the modern world. However, instead of it being a single individual who makes such a bargain, it is the entire society that is being tempted by the allure of unlimited wealth and power.
Ellul’s point is that technology, particularly the rise of consumerism and the pursuit of economic growth, has created a society that is increasingly driven by the desire for more and more material possessions, at the expense of other important values such as human relationships, community, and the environment. In this sense, the “inexhaustible purse” represents the idea that technology and consumerism can provide us with everything we need and want, without any limits or consequences.
Overall, the quote is a commentary on the dangers of unchecked technological progress and the importance of considering the ethical implications of our actions as a society.