By Bernard Mandeville, F. B. Kaye
Starting with a poem and carrying on with with a few essays and dialogues, this booklet is all tied jointly by means of the startling and unique concept that deepest vices (self-interest) bring about public advantages (the improvement and operation of society).
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Additional resources for The Fable of the Bees: Or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, Volume One
And he was careful to add that the law-givers were and are as much deceived as the rest of mankind. I would have no body that reflects on the mean Original of Honour complain of being gull’d and made a Property by cunning Politicians, but desire every body to be satisfied, that the Governors of Societies … are greater Bubbles to Pride than any of the rest (i. 220–1). 1 A great part of the volume is devoted to tracing the growth of society in a surprisingly scientific manner, and completely contradicts the literal interpretation of the allegory in the earlier portion of Part I.
There is here a definite application of the utilitarian standard. This point can hardly be over-emphasized. Much nonsense has been uttered concerning Mandeville’s believing everything equally valuable and his attempting to encourage wholesale vice, and crimes such as theft and murder. And this although he wrote a whole book1 on how to make the prevention of crime more efficacious. 1 All he maintained was that, viewed from his arbitrary rigoristic point of view, all actions were equally vicious.
Both of these forms of distrust of human reason are to be found in Mandeville,2 but neither should be confused with the type of anti-rationalism here to be considered. 1 And, whereas the aristocratic attitude distrusted merely the reason of the multitude, Mandeville declared the reason of all men the tool of their passions. org/title/846 Online Library of Liberty: The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, Vol. 1 All Human Creatures are sway’d and wholly govern’d by their Passions, whatever fine Notions we may flatter our Selves with; even those who act suitably to their Knowledge, and strictly follow the Dictates of their Reason, are not less compell’d so to do by some Passion or other, that sets them to Work, than others, who bid Defiance and act contrary to Both, and whom we call Slaves to their Passions (Origin of Honour, p.