Stephen Strehle is a leading scholar of church/state issues. In this volume, he focuses his rigorous historical analysis and philosophical acumen upon a topic of great interest today and source of cultural wars around the globe—the process of secularization. The book starts with a discussion of early capitalism and how it saw the real world functioning well-enough on its own principles of individual struggle and self-interest, without needing religious or moral principles to meddle in its affairs and eventually dispelling the need for any intelligent design or providential orchestration of life through the work of Darwin. The book then discusses the growth of the secular point of view: how historians dismissed the impact of religion in developing modern culture, how scientists conceived of the universe running on self-sufficient or mechanistic principles, and how people no longer looked to the providential hand of God to explain their suffering. The book ends with a discussion of how the Deist concept of human autonomy became a political policy in America through Jefferson’s concept of a wall of separation between church and state and how the US Supreme Court proceeded to dismiss the importance of religion in shaping or justifying the values of the nation and its laws. The book is accessible to most upper-level and graduate students in a wide-variety of disciplines, keeping technical and foreign words to a minimum and leaving scholarly details or debates to its extensive notes.
Chapter Two: The Development of Acquisitive Capitalism and Social Darwinism in Britain
One of the most pivotal figures in spreading the quintessential teachings of acquisitive capitalism abroad and turning its salient features into a matter of public debate was Bernard Mandeville (1670–1733). His ancestors were probably Huguenots, who emigrated from France to Holland looking for a more tolerant atmosphere to practice their Reformed faith and succeed in their professional life. His father rose to prominence in the culture as a leading physician, and Bernard followed his steps by studying medicine at Leyden, practicing the profession for a short time in the country, and then moving his practice to London during the early 1690s, where he stayed the rest of his life.1 In this new environment, Mandeville began another career as an author and spread his controversial message about the public benefit of self-interest and private vice, restating the Jansenist thesis in a more brazen and caustic manner than its previous proponents. The thesis was first mentioned in a poetic piece entitled “The Grumbling Hive” (1705), then developed a few years later in The Female Tatler (1709–1710) as a response to Richard Steele’s The Tatler, and finally expanded, refined, and broadcasted with uncompromising clarity and candor in his great work The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Public Benefits (1714).2 The Fable gained the succès de scandale a decade later when its new enlarged edition was published and immediately denounced by the London Journal on July 17, 1723, ← 53 | 54 → catapulting it into the center of public disdain and providing it enough publicity to justify five more editions in the next ten years, with a volume of dialogues added to the first in 1729 supplementing the basic message. During this time, the work endured and prospered under the constant assault from a wide-range of sources: periodicals like the Bibliothéque Britannique and Histoire des Ouvrages des Savans, bibliographies like Masch and Trinius, encyclopedias like the General Dictionary, and a diverse array of significant scholars and political figures.3 A number of the reviews referred to the work as making a “great noise in England,” and some saw the controversy spreading to other countries in Europe.4 The Fable found its special significance in bringing to the forefront the Jansenist tradition of self-interest in bold relief,5 causing people to reel from the dark rhetoric of the book while thinking about the issues and recognizing some validity in its overall thesis. Adam Smith devoted a whole chapter to attacking the “licentious system” of Mandeville,6 but he was clearly influenced by its teachings and later acknowledged the important impact of its paradoxical defense of capitalism upon the leading figures of the day.7 In the Theory of Moral Sentiment and Wealth of Nations, he followed a moderate form of the basic thesis in affirming the depraved motives of people and the salvific effect of self-interest in society, and directly paraphrased other discussions from the Fable, as in the case of his famous passages upon the division of labor.8 Smith and others chose to mitigate the basic thesis of the Fable in reeling from a darker reality that might upset the need for an “invisible hand” and moral purpose in life. The new theory of economics lent its more disturbing view of reality to nineteenth-century biology and social sciences in showing how order might develop without design in the work of Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, and Herbert Spencer.9
Mandeville’s overall thesis developed out of a dark view of the human condition. Darkness characterized the anthropology of the church in general with its emphasis upon the fallen nature of humanity, the confession of sin, and the need for grace to rescue the massa perditionis, but some of its strongest expressions were found within the Augustinian tradition of the Jansenists, the growing cynicism in French culture,10 and the Calvinist background of the Huguenots—all of which played a major role in shaping the worldview of Mandeville. Many of the early Deists and liberals began to question this view of Christianity and preferred a more positive interpretation of human nature—like Lord Shaftesbury, who saw a natural tendency or sentiment toward benevolence in society and accused Mandeville of turning the human race into a pack of “wolves”11; but Mandeville categorically rejected the optimistic portrait of the liberal community and remained faithful to the orthodox tradition of total depravity and its pessimistic view of human nature. In his works, he says human beings generally find “real Pleasures” within the “Mundane and Corruptible things” of this worldly existence, excepting a “few Devout Christians,” who ← 54 | 55 → are “preternaturally assisted by divine grace.”12 He particularly chastens the “well-Bred” gentlemen of the social elite for feigning virtue by making a grand production out of their generosity, while trying to hide their true, self-serving motives from public view.13 Sometimes he finds an exception within a pious few, but other times he denounces all the activities of all human beings as filled with sordid motives, even the most pious and benevolent acts of human love.14 Here his work is more consonant with the Calvinist doctrine of civil righteousness and its emphasis upon the total depravity of all Christians and non-Christians alike.15 This view finds no possibility of human beings offering anything of true righteousness before the ultimate judgment of God while living in this fallen world—above and beyond the Augustinian tradition, which contains the genuine possibility of serving God and performing good deeds through divine grace or the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Mandeville applies the Calvinist doctrine to his own fallen nature and cannot find “one Christian virtue” when he examines its motives under the microscope of divine righteousness,16 much like Paul in Romans 7. He and other human beings might cloak their “darling lusts” and “filthy Appetites” under a veil of “concern for the public Good” and act as if they are working for some noble or moral end, but they never obtain true self-denial in any of their endeavors and only end up deceiving others and themselves about the true reasons lurking behind their overt deeds.17 Here Mandeville follows the Gospel tradition of denouncing humans as “hypocrites” and “white-washed tombs” (Mt 23) in trying to unmask the true motives of all people, hiding behind Pharisaical appearances, but his critics found him much too harsh in destroying human potential. His anthropology provided Mandeville with a pretext for developing a cynical view of life and satirical way of writing about it—at least according to his critics,18 while others found him brutally honest.
As one might suspect, Mandeville’s concept of depravity follows the typical concern of acquisitive capitalism and focuses upon self-interest as the archetypal sin. His works expand the discussion to include the animal kingdom as he observes various species killing each other in struggling for their own life or kind and adapting to the natural environment.19 Humans share this same common instinct for self-preservation in acting according to their own self-interest and selfish motives. All their apparent virtues only cover the underlying desire to satisfy the baser passions of a natural and self-serving impulse.20 Compassion only comes from the natural instinct for self-preservation in its attempt to eliminate pain.21
Later in his works, Mandeville decides to distinguish this instinct for self-preservation or “self-love” from the pride of “self-liking,” which arises only in society when seeking the approval of others.22
Self-liking I have call’d that great Value, which all Individuals set upon their own Persons; that high Esteem, which I take all Men to be born with for themselves…. When ← 55 | 56 → this self-liking is excessive, and so openly shewn as to give Offence to others, I know very well it is counted a Vice and called Pride.23
Self-love would first make it scrape together every thing it wanted for Sustenance, provide against the Injuries of the Air, and do every thing to make itself and young Ones secure. Self-liking would make it seek for Opportunities, by Gestures, Looks, and Sounds, to display the Value it has for itself, superiour to what it has for others; an untaught Man would desire evry body that came near him, to agree with him in the Opinion of his superior Worth, and be angry, as far as his Fear would let him, with all that should refuse it: He would be highly delighted with, and love evry body, whom he thought to have a good Opinion of him, ….24
Mandeville thinks of honor and shame as fundamental factors in moving human beings away from the primitive state of self-preservation and self-gratification toward a more advanced stage of interaction in society. The invention of honor proves more beneficial to society than simple religious admonitions to lead a virtuous life since few people care about practicing genuine humility or reverence toward God as a daily motivating factor in their lives.25 In history, great civilizations were built through offering their citizens the reward of praise with its many triumphs, monuments, arches, trophies, statues, and inscriptions, not preaching to them pious platitudes or exhortations toward virtue.26 Even in modern Christian Europe, few men can resist the temptation of restoring their honor through the dreadful practice of dueling, rather than following the biblical mandate to turn the other cheek.27 Europeans clearly center much of their lives around this special form of self-interest, and Mandeville, along with other capitalists like Bayle and Smith, are just confronting the brutal reality of human conduct in society with as much candor as possible when making honor (or shame) the chief motivating factor in what they witness every day around them.28
Mandeville’s work provides a direct challenge to Richard Steele’s Tatler and its all-too-typical denunciation of vice in the public and private sphere, which characterized the Augustan era in England.29 In his work, he shocks the moral scruples of the era by making a distinction between the private and public sector and showing how unsavory elements are necessary for the “Welfare of trade and Commerce” and the “Sociableness of man,” that “Avarice and Prosperity are necessary to the Society,” that private vices actually have public benefits.30 He says those who make sanctimonious preachments against certain passions and want to inculcate the perfect virtue of a “Golden Age” only end up discouraging the very elements that create a “wealthy and powerful Nation,” an “opulent and flourishing people.”31 Without English women coveting Asian silk, their trading partner would possess no capital to “purchase the vast Quantities of fine English Cloth,” and both economies would suffer.32 In the “Grumbling Hive,” the many vices of ← 56 | 57 → “Fraud, Luxury, and Pride” actually made the culture thrive with the “buzz” of economic prosperity and social interaction.33
Luxury Employ’d a Million of the Poor,
And odious Pride a Million more:
Envy itself, and Vanity,
Were Ministers of Industry;
Their darling Folly, Fickleness,
In Diet, Furniture and Dress,
That strange ridic’lous Vice, was made
The very Wheel that turn’d the Trade.34
When the vices of the hive were decreased for a time through the miraculous intervention of the gods, all the occupants grew content with their possessions and settled into a lower standard of living.35
According to Mandeville, vices are necessary to produce a luxurious and felicitous lifestyle.36 Money might be the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10), but no economy can truly prosper without it, making the exigencies of the world much different from the spiritual admonitions of the gospel.37 The state might express concern about certain defects within its social arrangements and forward interests that exceed the base material prosperity of its subjects, but no one wants complete moral virtue to fetter society; it would be foolish to try and fix every moral problem in trying to create a perfect world.38 Mandeville thinks it is wiser to develop a balanced approach by accepting un-Christian motives and practices as a necessary part of a fallen world, without overtly trying to advocate criminal behavior or maintain that all vices are useful.39 Sometimes he can say that “Virtue is more beneficial than Vice … for the Peace and real Happiness of Society in general” and “Temporal felicity of every individual,”40 but he never thinks it is wise for society to try and cleanse the world from sin and often finds some evil necessary in order to prevent a much greater evil from presenting itself and so destroying the people. He finds dueling a necessary part of his particular world in keeping people more civil and courteous to each other, even if a few might die in the process.41 “There would be twenty times the mischief done there is now, or else you have twenty times the constables and other officers to keep the peace [sic].”42 He also finds “publick stews” a necessary evil in protecting and preserving virtuous women from the seduction of rapacious male appetites, allowing “Chastity” to be “supported by Incontinence” and a few prostitutes sacrificed for the general honor of most women. He maintains that wise politicians support or tolerate this practice, recognizing the need to protect society from the greater harm of rape, debauchery, and sexual immorality among the general populace.43 He particularly dislikes artificial, ← 57 | 58 → egalitarian measures to meddle in the natural differences between human beings and prefers a laissez-faire policy of letting nature take its course.44 He finds the attempt to educate the poor and improve their lot in life the epitome of “pious smugness, self-righteousness, and stupidity.”45 It is better for a “well-ordered society” that a “certain Portion of Ignorance” subsists within it to perform the menial tasks of labor, rather than develop a victimization complex by making the poor discontent with their important role in the economy. It is better for their children “to wear out their Clothes by useful Labour, and blacken them with Country Dirt for something, instead of tearing them off their Backs at play, and dawbing them with Ink for nothing.”46
…every Hour those of poor People spend at their Book is so much time lost to the Society. Going to school in comparison to Working is Idleness, and the longer Boys continue in this easy sort of Life, the more unfit they’ll be when grownup for downright Labour, both as to Strength and Inclination.47
Many critics associated Mandeville with Tacitus, Machiavelli, and a disturbing trend toward Realpolitik that was destroying public morality in their mind.48 George Blewitt accused him of making evil an “essential [component] of society,”49 and it is difficult to defend him against this charge. Certainly, Mandeville’s work speaks over and over about the impossibility of forging a Christian nation, since few follow the precepts of the religion in their daily lives, and the basic tenets of the faith are incompatible with the pride and war-like instincts it takes to create a mighty nation—much the same way as Machiavelli characterized the situation.50 In creating the dichotomy between public and private life, Mandeville eliminates the possibility, or even the need for virtuous behavior in the political realm,51 maintaining the “no Society can be rais’d into such a rich and mighty kingdom, or so rais’d, subsist in their Wealth and Power for any considerable times, without the Vices of Man.”52 He never proceeds in the direction of Helvétius or tries to eliminate the dichotomy in a utilitarian manner by justifying the political means in terms of a good social outcome, but remains content in representing the facts of life without attempting a simple reconciliation.53 In many ways, Mandeville is paving the way toward the work of sociologists, who make a concerted effort in trying to detach their analysis from a moralistic viewpoint and concentrate on the effect of individual actions upon the collective whole, regardless of the personal intention of the actor or its ethical value. Mandeville’s religious and moral commitment remains steadfast throughout his work, but like many early capitalists, he paves the way for sociologists by dispensing with personal convictions and providing a new framework for thinking about social consequences, where rational or ethical intention seldom match the results.54 ← 58 | 59 →
When Mandeville thinks of true religion, he disregards its effects on society and considers it an other-worldly existence regarding self-denial or resistance to the passions of this world.55 Many critics questioned his ascetic concept of virtue,56 but Mandeville insists that self-denial is the essence of spiritual virtue or true Christian piety.57 His social analysis represents a disconcerting reality for him that most people spend their time pursuing the pleasures of this world; and those who practice the ascetic-type of lifestyle, the “sincere and real Christians,” are few and far between, possessing little impact on society.58 Mandeville’s understanding of people clearly comes from his Reformed background, which finds it impossible to serve God apart from grace and sees few people elected unto this higher calling.59
Many modern scholars dismiss Mandeville’s clear and unequivocal testimony to his religious convictions. They often treat him as a religious subversive with a surreptitious plan to ridicule and undermine faith, but in doing so, they seem to reveal little more than their own secular agenda in subverting what is plainly in the text and wanting to claim such an important figure as one of their own. F. B. Kaye appears most responsible for advancing this bizarre interpretation of Mandeville and the Fable in his important introduction to the work, unveiling the author as an atheist or Deist, continually hiding under the mask of Christian faith to ward off persecution and secretly defend a secular, empiricist, and utilitarian point of view60; but such an interpretation would contravene Mandeville’s continuous profession of the faith and rejection of deism in just about all his works. Unless he is a pathological liar or engaging in the type of hypocrisy that is so reviled in the Fable, he can hardly be interpreted as a secularist. He clearly follows the Reformation and the basic cultural milieu of his day in using literal hermeneutical principles to interpret the Bible and support the historical account of Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, and the Tower of Babel.61 He accepts the typical Protestant shibboleths of sola fides, sola gratia, and sola scriptura in finding the human race unworthy and incapable of receiving the knowledge and salvation of God apart from grace.62 He remains true to his Reformed background by endorsing the Pauline doctrine of predestination as the clear teaching of Scripture, even if he wants toleration to reign among the polemical sides of the debate.63 He conducts a serious polemical campaign of his own against the Catholic Church, particularly denouncing its priests and rituals for enslaving the laity to Rome during the Middle Ages.64 He promotes religious toleration and extends the same policy to atheists as moral citizens—much like Bayle, yet he hesitates in granting the courtesy to Catholics as an ardent polemicist against its priestcraft and propensity toward hierarchical authority in church and state—much like Locke.65 All in all, he presents the picture of an ecumenical, non-denominational Protestant, who wants toleration to reign between conformists ← 59 | 60 → and non-conformists in the land of England, while displaying a decided tendency toward the Reformed or anti-Catholic side of the debate in the struggle over the soul of the Anglican Church.66 If all this is an elaborate ruse, he provides no real indication of it, or wavering over his convictions to allow scholars to understand him in a different manner.
Much of the misunderstanding comes from a failure to appreciate his clear distinction between faith and reason. Unlike the later philosophes, he never takes his musings with utmost seriousness so as to proceed into complete skepticism and undermine his faith.67 He displays a dim view of natural human sagacity and its ability to possess the true knowledge of God, beyond some vague awareness of an “Invisible Cause” behind all things.68 The truth of God only comes from a direct revelation, inducing the believer to forsake the power of reason and trust in what God has revealed in Scripture.69 Its mysteries live above the arrogant pretenses of philosophy to judge the divine revelation and determine what is beyond human reach (1 Cor 1–2).70 Even his philosophical musings remain a debatable and fallible witness to the limits of human reason and carry no absolute authority for the believer next to the Scripture.71 In this way, Mandeville follows the same basic outline as Bayle in allowing reason to exercise its autonomous powers and present honest problems for a religious view of the world without going too far and undermining the faith itself. Both Bayle and Mandeville come from a Reformed theological community that provides a spiritual matrix for this understanding of faith and reason to develop in emphasizing the qualitative distinction between God and human beings (solus deus), negating the ability of a lost and fallen race to establish the true knowledge of God (massa perditionis), and making salvation/revelation dependent upon divine grace or the miraculous and personal activity of God (sola gratia). Mandeville follows the Reformed tradition and probably receives inspiration from Bayle to interpret the faith in this particular way as a basic source of his ideas.72
By far the chief of these [influences] was Pierre Bayle. In the Fable Mandeville cited Bayle and borrowed from him again and again—especially from his Miscellaneous Reflections; in his Free Thoughts Mandeville specifically confessed the debt which that book owed to Bayle’s Dictionary; and the germ of the Origin of Honour is to be found in Miscellaneous Reflections…. It is worth noting, too, that Bayle was teaching in Rotterdam while Mandeville was attending the Erasmian School there…, and that, consequently, Mandeville may have had personal contact with Bayle.73
Mandeville maintains his faith in the midst of rational arguments that might cast doubt upon his religion and erode its very foundation. He perseveres in the typical pious manner whenever intellectual problems arise and cause disturbances with simple piety by deferring to divine providence and its use of tainted means to ← 60 | 61 → serve a greater purpose and bring about a good result for society74; but one can still wonder whether his system needs to explain the outcome of life miraculously when its normal chaotic forces can fit together and do the job on their own. His system finds government intervention unnecessary for the most part in following the basic laissez-faire economic policies of the early capitalists and believing that private interests reap public benefits.75 Mandeville thinks it best not to meddle in the “Felicity, that would flow spontaneously from the Nature of every large Society” by interjecting the “short-sighted Wisdom” of “well-meaning people.”76 The order of life evolves over a long period through slow changes or the “joynt Labour of many Ages,” making “morals, mores, reason and speech the product of an evolution that has taken” a long time.77 In this way of thinking, life is more comparable to the production of a ship and less analogous to a rational machine with a complex mechanical design—the age-old basis of theistic argumentation. A ship evolves through numerous trials and errors of many civilizations, making small changes over a long period, without a specific end in view or antecedent mathematical design.78
|Cleomenes:||The Chevalier Reneau has wrote a Book, in which he shews the Mechanism of sailing, and accounts mathematically for every thing that belongs to the working and steering of a Ship. I am persuaded, that neither the first inventors of Ships and sailing, of those, who have Improvements since any Part of them, ever dream’d of those Reasons [ or technological improvements], any more than now the rudest and most illiterate of the vulgar do when they are made Sailors, which Time and Practice will do in Spight of their Teeth…. I verily believe, not only that the raw beginners, who made the first Essays in either Art, good manners as well as Sailing, were ignorant of the true Cause, the real Foundation those Arts are built upon in Nature; but likewise that, even now both Arts are brought to great Perfection, the greatest Part of those that are most expert, and daily making Improvements in them, know as little of the Rationale of them, as their Predecessors did at first.79|
|Horatio:||If, as you said, and which I now believe to be true, the people, who first invented, and afterwards improved upon ships and sailing, never dreamed of those reasons of Monsieur Reneau, it is impossible that they should have acted upon them, as motives that induced them a priori to put their inventions and improvements in practice, with knowledge and design; which, I suppose, is what you intended to prove.80|
This illustration of Mandeville will be used later in the work of Hume and Darwin in seeing life as evolving through a process of small adaptations and botched attempts, rather than one massive design like the famous watch of William Paley.81 ← 61 | 62 →
Adam Smith (1723–1790) followed Mandeville and the basic tradition of acquisitive capitalism in composing its most celebrated work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, a small fishing village near Edinburgh, and went off to study at the University of Glasgow when he was 14 years of age, sitting under Francis Hutcheson, and later attended Balliol College at Oxford. He served as a Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow for over a decade beginning in 1752 and then took a position as a tutor of the young duke of Buccleuch, where he traveled to France for a couple of years and met with important “enlightened” figures like Voltaire, Rousseau, Franklin, Hume, Helvétius, Turgot, Quesnay, and other physiocrats, already sharing many of their ideas.82 Upon his return to Britain, he began work on the Wealth of Nations, which took around a decade to finish writing, editing, and finally publishing it in 1776.
The work clearly emerged and operated within the tradition of acquisitive capitalism, but a more precise origin of its ideas is difficult to pinpoint, given the sparse references to specific sources in his writings.83 With this reservation, one can still sense the relative significance of the physiocrats for Smith as prominent purveyors of the tradition. Smith considered the physiocrats’ system “with all its imperfections” a significant challenge to Mercantilist policy on free trade and the nearest approximation to the truth on the political economy.84 They might have overreacted to Mercantilism by centering the economy upon agrarian concerns, but their belief in the liberty to pursue one’s economic interests and freedom from excessive taxation and regulation made a significant impression upon Smith in formulating his ideas.85 In fact, he thought of dedicating the Wealth of Nations to Quesnay at one point as a testimony to his rigorous economic thinking and influential ideas, but the latter died before Smith’s work was finally completed.86
Of course, one must not exaggerate the influence of a single source like Quesnay or the physiocrats and show some deference to the many other sources of the tradition, pervasive in Smith’s era and elite circles. Early on, in his Theory or Moral Sentiment (1759), he specifically mentions the work of Rousseau, La Rochefoucauld, and Mandeville as a part of the tradition. He chooses at this time to deprecate the “licentious system” of Mandeville and La Rochefoucauld, focusing his ire particularly upon Mandeville’s ascetic view of morality, treatment of all human passions as evil, and over-emphasis upon self-interest as the center of society, preferring instead to promote the more sensible treatment of Rousseau upon the subject with his emphasis upon sympathy.87 He tries to uphold a conservative moral stance within the work and distance his ideas from the darker moments of ← 62 | 63 → the Fable in warding off criticism from his own opinions and presenting a more eclectic and balanced approach to the issues at hand. However, he already follows Mandeville and the tradition’s more disturbing ideas by recognizing vanity as an essential impetus in society and finding some element of truth in the paradoxical relationship between private vice (or self-interest) and public benefit.88 Later, Smith commends Rousseau because he “softened, improved, and embellished, and stript [Mandeville’s principles] of all that tendency to corruption and licentiousness which has disgraced them in [the] original author [of the Fable of the Bees],”89 not that he overturned its fundamental truth. By the time he completes the Wealth of Nations, his writing reflects a more willing and open disciple of the tradition in expressing its more disturbing elements, without ever leaving a critical sense of proportion and balance in recognizing some of its defects.
Smith follows the tradition’s accent upon self-interest or self-love as a fundamental principle in understanding human activity.90 He finds this motivation understandable in human beings, given the need to sustain their lives as an indelible aspect of finite existence. Only a deity can afford to act out of benevolence in all external activities since the divine life exists in complete, self-sustained glory without any need of anything else to enhance its eternal perfection.91 Much of human activity must be taken up with meeting its needs, and Smith finds this motivating factor particularly pervasive when explaining the economy.92
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.93
To Smith, these interests and passions are not evil but understood in the manner of Rousseau as natural aspects of the human condition, which manifest themselves “upon many occasions [as] very laudable principles of action” when used through the prudence of rational discrimination and moral judgment.94 In this sense, he rejects the paradox between private vice and public virtue because it is based upon Mandeville’s ascetic system of value, which turns self-interest into a vice and discounts the possibility of a positive application of its desires.95
Smith certainly tries to paint a brighter picture than the Fable in his discussion of self-interest, but he still recognizes the considerable truth in Mandeville’s darker image and also goes on to speak of a morally corrupt side of it permeating society. Like Rousseau and others, he distinguishes the genuine natural needs of self-interest from those driven by the artificial pressures of society, where citizens long for the favorable “opinions of others,” seeking “honour without virtue.”96 “It is vanity, not the ease, or the pleasure, which interests us.… The desire of becoming ← 63 | 64 → the proper object of this respect…is perhaps the strongest of all our desires, [much more than] supplying all the necessities and conveniences of the body.… The rich man glories in his riches, because he feels they naturally draw upon him the attention of the world.”97 He admits that riches may serve as a partial motive inducing people to cultivate the soil, build houses and cities, and improve the arts and sciences, but this desire is secondary to the lust for honor, which serves Mandeville and many others within the tradition as a constant theme in describing what is most essential in depicting contemporary society and its corruption of simple human needs. Smith finds the lust for honor so pervasive in his world that he thinks of society as deriving its impetus and general rules of engagement from this basic concern over the approval and disapproval of others—“the love, the respect, or the horror of the spectator.”98 The rich might possess an “eye larger than the belly,” but they “consume little more than the poor” and end up distributing much of their produce to those in need, wittingly or unwittingly, so riches cannot serve as the fundamental motive, even within these depraved souls.99
Smith views self-interest as the principal governing motive in explaining human economic affairs, even in his Theory of Moral Sentiments.100 The economy generally runs upon self-interest in appealing to the advantage of each participant, who says, “Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want.”101 Thus, Smith follows the paradox of Mandeville in this particular sense by finding within the pursuit of individual advantage unplanned and unintended consequences resulting in the benefit of others and the welfare of the public on a larger scale.102
He finds this paradox somewhat miraculous and appeals like other members of the tradition to divine providence as guiding the process above and beyond the chaotic intensions of individual self-interest to ensure a rational and harmonious result for all. In both his Theory of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations, he finds the conflict disturbing enough to find its resolution only within the mysterious activity of an “invisible hand.” He says each individual “intends only his own security” and “gain” but is “led” by an “invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention … [often] more effectively than when he intends to promote it.”103 He says the rich end up forwarding a benevolent intention to divide the earth’s provisions in “equal proportions among all its inhabitants…without intending it, without knowing it” through the same secret guidance of an “invisible hand.”104 In all this, the economy finds its analogy within the larger workings of Nature, which also directs irrational instincts to “fulfill beneficent ends which the Director of nature intended to produce”—the passions of hunger, thirst, and pleasure driving their participants to fulfill the divine will without real knowledge of the ultimate purpose.105 Nature provides sexual urges and paternal instincts as ← 64 | 65 → a means of forwarding its true end in the propagation of the species, providing a quintessential example of the irrational way in which nature and the economy work in general, deriving its order from the chaotic nature of forces working below the surface.106
This concept of life might lead other commentators like Schopenhauer and Darwin to develop a more atheistic interpretation of the way nature works, but Smith remains committed to the basic tradition of his society and early capitalism in affirming a belief in divine providence. He speaks of the universe as a “great machine” with “secret wheels and springs,” God as the “great Architect of the Universe,” the “great Director of Nature,” or “Invisible Hand,” and uses the metaphor of a “watch-maker” to demonstrate a theistic, or teleological belief in the nature of life serving a final cause.107 At times, he proceeds in this line of thinking as far as it goes and thinks of the universe as the best of all possible worlds, as if the cosmic force contrives and conducts the immense machine in such a way that self-interest perfectly matches the general welfare as “happiness and perfection of the species”; even the “weakness and folly of men” serve the greater design of the divine “wisdom and goodness.”108 But one wonders whether Smith is holding on to a mythological explanation against the basic propensities of his understanding of the way life works in reality and on its terms, just like so many others in the early stages of the tradition. First of all, he admits that life does not always yield such sublime results in his way of thinking, so he finds it necessary to interject the government here and there to correct the abuses of self-interest through prudent and moralistic policies. Second, he often shows how self-interest results in societal benefits through offering simple examples but seems to defy the explanatory value of his own illustrations by interjecting a mystical force that no longer serves any real purpose. Why interject a deus ex machina when no real mystery remains about the fundamental mechanisms of the economy when the chaos of self-interest can explain the apparent order or design in a simple manner? Does the presupposition of a divine force serve any real purpose?
Like the physiocrats, Smith continues to persevere in understanding nature through theistic categories, emphasizing the natural law and exhibiting the same tensions as his predecessors in describing the divine role in it.109 Sometimes the laws of nature refer to the machine of divine creation that can be described in a rational, mathematical, and scientific manner when studying the empirical form of its design and inner workings. Other times the natural law refers to divine imperatives, which God impresses upon all human beings, serving as a guide for success in receiving its rewards as if obeying the laws of karma. Smith says that “every virtue naturally meets with its proper reward, with the recompense which is most fit to encourage and promote it; and this too is so surely, that it requires a ← 65 | 66 → very extraordinary concurrence of circumstances entirely to disappoint it,” making it “almost always true” that “honesty is the best policy,” that nature rewards the “industrious knave” over the “indolent man.”110
The tension within the natural law leads him to adopt a distinct dualism in his view of government policy. On the one hand, he advocates a laissez-faire policy as the fundamental disposition of the government toward the economy answering to his emphasis upon the way nature happens to work out best through its own design and maintaining that politicians should stay out of it and let the forces of nature set prices and wages according to the law of supply and demand.111 In this way, he champions the cause of freedom: the freedom of choice in occupations through the absence of regulations and settlement laws, the freedom of trade in commerce by repealing restrictions on land transfers and abolishing import duties and local custom taxes, and the freedom from undue regulation in general, so much associated with the Mercantilist regime and its protection of special interest groups, inhibiting genuine competition and the freedom of all citizens.112 On the other hand, he ends up rejecting a doctrinaire laissez-faire policy and finds a more positive role for government to play in the economy answering to his belief in the moral imperative within the natural law and recognizing that what transpires in the world of nature and self-interest does not always serve a wise, good, or prudent end.113 Here he decides to list three basic duties as the specific responsibility of the sovereign: to protect society against foreign and domestic violence; to establish an exact administration of justice, and to erect “certain public institutions and certain public works.”114 He also speaks of an “impartial spectator,” who judges the propriety of individual activity and makes it fit within the general rules of society.115 The passions of self-interest must be tempered by a sense of “fair play” and the “laws of justice,” which discourage violence toward others and ensure a benevolent purpose for all.116 These laws find a basis within an “immediate sense and feeling” of the divine will, and have no pretext within the empirical or rational calculations of utilitarianism. Smith rejects the attempt of David Hume and the early English Deists to restore a genuine sense of ethics through secular means and prefers the inconsistency of a moderate stance, which clings to the old religious and moral categories while subscribing to the basic principles of acquisitive capitalism.117
Despite Smith’s concerns, the theory was extended into the social sphere to question the traditional moral approaches, and found one of its most disturbing applications within the pitiless world of Social Darwinism, which viewed the old ← 66 | 67 → moral reaction to human misery as counterproductive. This new approach to social issues received an early impetus from the work of Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), a Cambridge mathematician and rector of a parish. Malthus simply took a number of basic ideas from Smith and expanded them into a more sober and arresting view of life, as embodied in his controversial work, An Essay of the Principle of Population (1798)—a book that “haunted,” “overshadowed,” and “darkened all English life for seventy years,” according to its critics.118 The work was excoriated for its dark message in seeing misery as a fact of life and directly opposed by authors like William Godwin and the Marquis de Condorcet, who heralded an optimistic view of human “perfectability” and unlimited possibilities following the French Revolution.119 In the work, Malthus acknowledges the disconcerting nature of his thesis and the heartfelt desires of his critics to paint a rosier picture of life and its future possibilities, but he also finds them disingenuous and wants to develop a more realistic conception about the prospects for success, given the indelible nature of human vice and weakness and the “unconquerable difficulties” of making genuine progress on certain issues.120 He wants to face life with all the integrity and skepticism of Mandeville’s analysis, rather than escape its problems and try to create an illusory world of idealistic expectations, which only end up making the brute realities of everyday existence even worse.
Within this spirit, Malthus sees suffering as an integral aspect of life and essential part of the divine plan. He finds it impossible to remove its cruelties through idealistic government policies and better to embrace suffering as a necessary component of the grand scheme of things for stimulating “mental and corporeal” development of the species.121 Malthus finds suffering most beneficial in checking the problem of population growth since humans tend to multiply beyond their food supply and need a means of reducing the number of mouths to feed.122 According to the theory, population tends to increase in a “geometric ratio,” while “subsistence increases only in an arithmetrical ratio,” causing a “strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence,” which can hardly keep up with the growth.123 Malthus finds it wise for the government to practice a laissez-faire policy and let nature take its course without trying to alter what works best on its own principles. Poor-laws involving public and private assistance only help a few misfortunate souls and have no effect on the problem of starvation in the country among the general populace. Handing out money only helps those who receive it, without increasing production, and makes those who receive nothing from the program starve by forcing them to pay more and more for less and less food according to the law of supply and demand.124
If one hears in these words some of the basic themes of acquisitive capitalism, it is because Malthus relates them to Smith’s economic theories125 and stresses ← 67 | 68 → many of the same themes of Smith and other capitalists within the text as bearing upon his social interpretation. He speaks of the basic capitalistic emphasis upon self-interest as the fundamental motivating factor of human beings. He rejects William Godwin’s emphasis upon benevolence as the most important factor in society, along with the typical left-wing call for rich people to give the necessities of life unto the poor without exacting labor.126 He also speaks with the same skepticism of capitalism toward the Mercantilist System, rejecting the need for the government to meddle in the economy and preferring to let the basic laws of nature “operate as a constant check to incipient population” in creating equilibrium.127 Even his basic thesis finds some mention within the Wealth of Nations, where Smith speaks with some concern over population levels in wanting people and animals to multiply “in proportion to the means of subsistence” and the demand for labor to determine the rate of birth128—affording much the same sentiment as Malthus and indicating the clear affinity and relation between the works of these two scholars and their schools of thought.
Smith’s form of capitalism was never an isolated theory of economics, but a part of a social tradition that contained ramifications for other disciplines as a total perspective upon life. Perhaps, most interesting was its relation to the emerging science of biology in the nineteenth century and the social theories that developed in light of this relationship, where science and economics merged with each other in significant ways. Charles Darwin saw the relationship in developing his theory of evolution and recognizing its larger social implications. In his writings, he borrows Mandeville’s analogy of a ship to illustrate his basic mechanism of evolutionary development and show how life can evolve in a piecemeal manner through a step-by-step process of trial and error, without an end in view or antecedent design, just like Mandeville’s concept of capitalism.129
When we no longer look at organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as at something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the processor, nearly in the same way as when we look at any great mechanical invention as the summing up of the labour, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting, I speak from experience, will the study of natural history become.130
He and Wallace also speak of Malthus’ significant influence upon them in developing their respective theories of natural selection. Wallace says,
But perhaps the most important book I read was Malthus’s “Principles of Population”, which I greatly admired for its mastery summary of the facts and logical induction to ← 68 | 69 → conclusions. It was the first work that I had yet read treating of any of the problems of philosophical biology, and its main principles remained with me as a permanent possession, and twenty years gave me the long-sought clue to the effective agent in the evolution of organic species…without which work I should probably not have hit upon the theory of natural selection and obtained full credit for its independent discovery.… [W]hile again considering the problem of the origin of the species, something led me to think of Malthus’ Essay on Population (which I had read about ten years before), and the “positive checks”—war, disease, famine, accidents, etc.—which he adduced as keeping all savage populations nearly stationary. It then occurred to me that these checks must also act upon animals, and keep down their numbers; and as they increase so much faster than man does, …. While vaguely thinking how this would affect any species, there suddenly flashed upon me the idea of the survival of the fittest.131
Darwin mentions reading Malthus’s Essay on September 28, 1838, and proceeds to talk about its importance in developing his theory.132
In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then, I had last got a theory by which to work; but I was so anxious to avoid prejudice, that I determined not for some time to write even the briefest sketch of it.133
As soon as I had fully realized this idea [of the power of selection], I saw, on reading Malthus on Population, that Natural Selection was the inevitable result of the rapid increase of all organic beings; for I was prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence by having long studied the habits of animals.134
You are right, that I came to the conclusion that selection was the principle of change from the study of domestic productions; and then, reading Malthus, I saw at once how to apply this principle.135
A struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high rate at which all organic beings tend to increase. Every being, which during its natural lifetime produces several eggs or seeds, must suffer destruction during some period of its life, and during some season or occasional year, otherwise, on the principle of geometrical increase, its numbers would quickly become so inordinately great that no country should support the product. Hence, as more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must in every case be a struggle for existence, either one individual with another of the same species, or the individuals of distinct species, or with the physical conditions of life. It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdom.136 ← 69 | 70 →
[My theory of evolution] … is the doctrine of Malthus applied in most cases with ten-fold force.137
In these testimonies, Darwin speaks of his fundamental agreement with Malthus concerning the geometric expansion of the species and the natural check upon the expansion, leading to starvation and selection.138 Malthus helps Darwin understand the importance of struggle within nature in evolving the species by showing the difficulty of supporting a large offspring in an environment and allowing the strong to triumph over the weak.139
Darwin makes more of a concerted effort to confine his work to the realm of natural history, but his ideas were formulated within a larger cultural context and were destined to precipitate into a larger social agenda.140 John Maynard Keynes sees the Darwinians as simply outpacing the capitalists in advocating “the supreme achievement of chance, operating under conditions of free competition and laissez-faire” government policy, with Herbert Spencer and the “Social Darwinians” serving as the supreme example of this intimate relationship.141 Even Darwin recognizes the relation and remains personally linked to the economic and social ramifications of his theory in accepting Spencer’s phrase “survival of the fittest” as a “more accurate” way of conceiving “natural selection,” while expressing admiration for Spencer’s general application of the theory to society.142 Darwin can speak just like Malthus in rejecting human intervention on behalf of the weak, finding poor-laws and asylums “highly injurious to the race of man” and counterproductive to achieving the ultimate triumph of the strong.
We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their own kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.143
In the case of corporeal structures, it is the selection of the slightly better-endowed and the elimination of the slightly less well-endowed individuals, and not the preservation of strongly-marked and rare anomalies, that leads to the advancement of a species. So it will be with the intellectual faculties, since the somewhat abler men in each grade of society succeed rather better than the less able, and consequently increase in number, if not otherwise prevented. When in any nation the standard of intellect and the number of intellectual men have increased, we might expect from the law of the deviation from an average, that prodigies of genius will, as shewn by Mr. Galton, appear somewhat more frequently than before.144 ← 70 | 71 →
Lastly, I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran not so many years ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking at the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.145
This world of Social Darwinism represented a much different perspective on life than the Pauline concept of self-sacrificing love for the weak and down-and-out (1 Cor 1). It represented a different social message than the Puritan concept of altruistic capitalism, which exhorted its followers to sacrifice the pleasure of narcissistic goals and work for others in building a “City on a Hill” and a better life for future generations. Social Darwinism developed out of a different tradition of capitalism, which was more pessimistic about redeeming society, given the innate darkness of human nature and the need to be realistic about future prospects. The acquisitive capitalists saw no possibility of cleansing the world from the tainted motives of self-interest or escaping its tribulations and imposing a religious order on society that might change human nature into a more sublime image. It was best to leave people alone and let them follow their own devices as they often work for a good social outcome above and beyond their desires, no matter how unseemly or selfish the motives in performing the task at hand. It was best to reject the heavy-hand of government intervention in their lives and its counterproductive measures of bolstering the economy or feeding the poor, and recognize the wisdom of a Realpolitik that lets life take its course and work things out on its terms. It was unwise to forget the brute realities of life and live in a Platonic, dream-like state of ideal perfection, trying to build a utopian or Christian nation and only making matters worse in an attempt to make all things right and prop up the weak and their wretchedness.
Because of this, many acquisitive capitalists ended up embracing a dichotomy between faith and reason, answering to their division between the spiritual admonitions of the Christian gospel and the practical realities of temporal existence. The old religious and moral categories had difficulty explaining the chaotic way of the world’s inner mechanism, bringing along with it a certain amount of skepticism to traditional theistic rationalizations of life’s difficulties. Reformed scholars like Bayle and Mandeville tried to rescue the faith from the criticisms of reason by applying their theological beliefs in the total depravity of humankind and the all-sufficient grace of God to develop a dichotomy between faith and reason. They permitted their philosophical musings to venture into questionable areas and posit dangerous ideas, like the social efficacy of self-interest, while confessing the frailty of human ← 71 | 72 → reason, its inadequacy to penetrate divine mysteries, and the need for a special act of grace to receive the true and solid revelation of God. Almost all of the early capitalists deferred to divine providence when explaining the relationship between the beneficent end of life and questionable means that were employed to reach it as if witnessing a miraculous act of reconciliation beyond the reach of human imagination, but secularism was growing, and its apologists gaining ground: some beginning to mitigate the paradox in favor of reason, and others seeking to eliminate faith altogether. Smith mitigated the paradox by rejecting the depravity of self-interest and merging its desires with those of the public, even though he continued to embrace the moral law of the “impartial spectator” to rectify abuses in the system and refused to proceed any further and accept the atheistic and utilitarian schema of Hume. Helvétius was much more consistent in this line of thinking and rejected the basic dichotomy by forwarding the perspective of a thoroughgoing atheist, who no longer needed any innate ideas or moral categories and interpreted life in materialistic terms—far beyond the British empiricists and most French philosophes. Helvétius eliminated the paradox by centering society around the self-interest of the greatest happiness principle, denying the depravity of humankind and its desires, and making self-interest the efficacious means of virtue in the spirit of a thoroughgoing utilitarian point of view. In this more consistent perspective, laissez-faire capitalism meant that life worked fine on its own principles, without any need for an outside standard of righteousness or special help from the “invisible hand” to interfere or perform some extraordinary act. In Social Darwinism, the dogma of non-interference was made complete in its defiance of typical religious sensibilities. For Malthus, suffering was a simple fact of life and worked well on its own terms in controlling the population without the government intervening and messing things up through acts of charity. For Darwin, life was like a ship, which evolved through the everyday struggles of self-preservation and found no need for creative planning or outside orchestration, exorcizing the presence of God from any meaningful role in modern biological sciences.
The ruthless world of Social Darwinism lost favor and gave way to a more egalitarian spirit in western civilization after the defeat of Hitler’s racial policies in World War II. In America, William F. Buckley fought to preserve a religious element within the Republican Party and its basic allegiance to capitalist principles,146 but he was swimming against the powerful stream of left-wing intelligentsia in the country, which was proceeding toward secularism and erected a wall of separation between church and state in 1947 through the mere fiat of the U.S. Supreme Court. Even the Republican Party was proceeding along with the current in a secular direction, only leaving God to a few footnotes and formulas of political rhetoric to satisfy the remnant of religious affection among the people. Ayn Rand ← 72 | 73 → represented the secular side of the party in emphasizing acquisitive capitalism in its most atheistic form. She made her appeal to the modern consumer and the growing materialistic interests in the country while mitigating the racial aspect of Social Darwinism or the callous disregard for the poor as no longer offering a viable political alternative. She saw life within a Darwinian framework in finding self-preservation as its “single goal” and turned the pursuit of self-interest into a moral imperative.147 She rejected any puritanical admonitions toward altruism as unnecessary in fulfilling the mission of capitalism, believing that commerce benefits all parties involved in the mutual exchange of goods and circulation of money and requires no one to sacrifice any of their needs for the sake of others.148 She felt that true love always includes self-interest. It never involves an unconditional act of self-sacrifice or the granting of unconditional favors in spite of one’s feelings or respect. True love involves a personal affection and esteem, which experiences self-gratification in the presence of the beloved.149 This favorable review of self-interest resonated with many Republicans,150 but her form of acquisitive capitalism ran into some difficulty when attempting to explain sacred notions like individual property rights, which remained so much a part of the country and especially the Republican Party. Rand’s atheistic philosophy had to reject the historical justification for developing these rights within the will of God, and forced her to attribute the notion to an idea “derived from reality” and “validated by a process of reason,” making inalienable rights and social ethics an “objective, metaphysical” area of study.151 However, much of her discussion seemed vacant on this point, unable to answer simple questions. How can a metaphysical notion like natural law or rights be derived from a simple description of nature? How can one find an imperative within this world as if it contained a transcendent commentary upon its own processes? Or, can reason transform its limited vantage point in describing what happens to transpire in nature and find a more exalted role in prescribing what “ought” to occur in reality, when no ideal world exists to anchor this type of judgment?152 Such a problem has confronted atheism down through the ages and leaves some room for the place of religion in the modern world, which has yet to discover a coherent alternative.
1. Henry Monro, The Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 249; Louis Schneider, Paradox and Society: The Work of Bernard Mandeville, Jay Weinstein (forward) (New Brunswick, NJ and Oxford: Transaction Publishers, 1987), 29; M. M. Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits: Bernard Mandeville’s Social and Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 28; Bernard Mandeville, Fable of the ← 73 | 74 → Bees: Or, Private Vices, Public Benefits, F. B. Kaye (intro.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), 2.382–84.
2. Bernard Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour and the Usefulness of Christianity in War, M. M. Goldsmith (intro.) (London: Frank Cass and Co., 1971), x; Fable of the Bees, 1.xxxiii; Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Virtues, 25, 35, 37, 47. Hereafter Fable of the Bees is designated FB. He places the “Grumbling Hive” at the beginning of his Fable as the pretext for the controversy and basis of his book. Mandeville was influenced by that “Great Man in France, Monsieur de la Fountaine” in developing his genre and ideas. La Fountaine was influenced by the Jansenists/French moralistes and a member of the same salon as La Rouchefoucauld. He saw human beings as controlled by passions, especially their pride. Mandeville was so inspired by La Fountaine that he translated the fables of La Fountaine in Some Fables after the Easie and Familiar Method of Monsieur de la Fountaine (1703) and some additional fables in Aesop Dress’d (1704). Thomas Horne, The Social Thought of Bernard Mandeville (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978), 25–26.
3. FB 1.cxiv–vi; Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Virtues, 121. Goldsmith and Kaye contain a long list of important scholars who criticized the work.
4. FB cxv (n.1). Kaye lists a number of these reviews.
5. Horne, The Social Thought of Bernard Mandeville, 19, 21–23; Faccarello, Foundations of Laissez-faire, 58. Mandeville’s work was widely publicized in Europe through a number of ways and means: quasi-official journals of the Enlightenment Republic of Letters, Jean-François Melon’s desire to forward his discussion of the utilitarian nature of luxury, Rousseau’s direct reference in Discourse of the Arts and Sciences, and Voltaire’s compilation of its arguments in his Treatise on Metaphysics, as well as his work on its translation and commentary. André Morize, L’Apologie de luxe au XVIII e siècle et “Le Modain” de Voltaire (Genève: Slatkine Reprints, 1970), 78–80; Jean François Melon, Essai politique sur le commerce ([n.p.], 1734); Les Oeuvres Complètes de Voltaire (Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1989), 14.468–73; E. J. Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville and the Enlightenment’s Maxims of Modernity,” Journal of the History of Ideas 56/4 (1995): 588. Rousseau disliked the work as justifying modern Parisian luxury, passions, and general decadence in La Nouvelle Héloïse. Rousseau, Le Nouvelle Héloïse, in Oeuvres Complètes, 4.138; “Preface [Narcisse],” in Oeuvres Complètes, 4.405ff. (Collected Writings, 2.191ff.); Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 577, 592. Adam Smith connects La Rochefoucauld and Rousseau to Mandeville as part of the same tradition. “Letter to the Edinburgh Review,” in Essays on Philosophical Subjects, N. P. D. Wightman and J. C. Bryce (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 250; Winch, “Adam Smith,” 102–3; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 2.
6. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics, 1976), 485–96; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 2.
7. E.g., Smith, “Letter to the Edinburgh Review,” 242–54; David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, D. G. C. Macnabb (ed.) (Cleveland, OH and New York: The World Publishing Co., 1962), 1.12, 42, 338; Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 591; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 57; FB 1.cxlii; Winch, “Adam Smith,” 103. Francis Hutcheson, Smith’s mentor at Glasgow, was obsessed with attacking Mandeville’s concept of self-interest and its alleged benefits for society, unwittingly helping to pique Smith’s interest.
8. TMS 161, 166; FB 1.cxxxv, 169–70; 2.284. ← 74 | 75 →
9. F. A. Hayek, “Lecture on a Master Mind: Dr. Bernard Mandeville,” Proceedings of the British Academy 52 (1966): 126–27; Hjort, “Mandeville’s Ambivalent Modernity,” 952.
10. Stephen Strehle, The Dark Side of Church/State Separation: The French Revolution, Nazi Germany, and International Communism (New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction Publisgers, 2014), 4; Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 580; Gay, Voltaire’s Politics, 243, 310.
11. Shaftesbury, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Lawrence E. Klein (ed.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 43–44; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 184; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 55, 88. Hume also criticized his dark view of human beings.
12. FB 1.166.
13. FB 2.63, 91, 122. He thinks “these well-bred” people are particularly adept at concealing their superlative pride under a veil of “good manners.”
14. FB 1.146.
15. Jean Calvin, Institutio Christianiae Religionis, II, ii, 12; iii, 4; v, 19; III, xiv, 3 (CO 2.195–96, 213, 247, 566).
16. FB 2.18–19.
17. FB 1.57; 2.12–13, 16–19, 33, 110–111, 235; An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour,” 119; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 256.
18. Cf. Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 46–47.
19. FB 2.238–40, 249–50.
20. FB 1.lxii–lxiii, 75; 2.129.
21. FB 1.56; 2.182–83; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 135–37, 141. Rousseau rejects Mandeville’s account and thinks of pity as the fundamental quality motivating “all social virtue.” Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondemens de l’inégalité parmi les homes, in Oeuvres Complètes, 3.155; Smith, “Letter to the Edinburgh Review,” 251.
22. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, xiii, 6; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 140.
23. Ibid., 3.
24. FB 2.133. Kaye believes that Bishop Butler pushed Mandeville into making this distinction between self-love and self-liking. FB 2.129–30 (n.1).
25. Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 7–8; FB1.42, 221–22; An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 18, 29–30, 39, 42–43; Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 589–93; Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits, 51–53.
26. Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 589–93; FB 1.51, 68, 245–47, 264–65.
27. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 64, 79–80.
28. The Dictionary of Mr Peter Bayle, Reprinted from the second edition (London, 1734—38) (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1984), 3.965. See chap. one, pp. 29–30.
29. Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits, 24, 27, 35, 37.
30. FB1.103–6, 250, 344; Hjort, “Mandeville’s Ambivalent Modernity,” 954; Force, “Helvétius,” 108.
31. FB 1.6–7.
32. FB 1.251.
33. FB 1.24–26, 36, 48–49. Kaye thinks that Mandeville’s position leads to utilitarianism, like it does in Helvétius’ work. FB 1.lv, cxxxi–cxxxii. Mandeville’s perspective on luxury became ← 75 | 76 → fashionable among the educated elite in France through the work of Jean-François Melon and Voltaire. Essai politique sur le commerce; Oeuvres Complètes de Voltaire, 14.468ff.; The Works of Voltaire, 36.171–72; Humdert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 588.
34. FB 1.251.
35. FB 1.35, 347. Mandeville thinks that wealth is increasing. What was once called luxury is now “enjoy’d by the meanest and most humble Wretches.” FB 1.169. What was criticized by moralists/philosophers in the past tends to gain acceptance later on. Many thought the concept of luxury was relative to culture. The Works of Voltaire, 37.216–18; Ferdinando Galiani, Della Moneta Libri Cinque (Napoli: Nella Stamperia, 1780), 12.29–30; Saint-Lambert, “Luxe,” in Encyclopédie, L, 84. John Brown views commerce as containing certain benefits in supplying mutual necessities, but also sees it degenerating in its final stage to create an avaricious people of vanity and “selfish effeminacy,” a people who extol refinement and luxury and lose their religion for the pursuit of pleasure. John Brown, An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (Boston, MA: Green and Russell, 1758), 76–78.
36. FB 1.12; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 32.
37. FB 1.349, 353; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 19, 21.
38. FB 2.350; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 158–59; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 12, 19, 21.
39. Schneider, Paradox and Society, 102–3; FB 1.10; E. D. James, “Faith, Sincerity, and Morality—Mandeville and Bayle,” in Irwin Primer (ed.), Mandeville Studies: New Explorations in the Art and Thought of Dr. Bernard Mandeville (1670–1733), (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975), 64.
40. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, ii, vii. He says, all the commandments, including the Ten Commandments, address the good of society. FB 2.283.
41. FB 1.217–21: Schneider, Paradox and Society, 47–48, 200–2. Dueling also toughens men up, giving them a bellicose nature in case of war.
42. FB 1.219–20.
43. FB 1.96–100; A Modest Defence of Public Stews; or An Essay upon Whoring (Glasgow, 1730?) xiii, 59; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 82; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 38; Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits, 149–50. In a Modest Defence of Publick Stews, or An Essay Upon Whoring, he put forth a plan for state-owned brothels. He lists a number of reasons, including the need for regulation and health concerns. Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 77ff., 80–81.
44. FB 2.353.
45. Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 93–94. He is referring to the charity schools. They were sponsored by the society in 1698 for the promotion of Christian knowledge and spread throughout England, reaching a total of 348 by 1718.
46. FB 1.285–89, 301–2, 311, 318, 322; Goldsmith, Privates Vices, Public Benefits, 153; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 96–97.
47. FB 1.288.
48. Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 581–83.
49. George Blewitt, An Enquiry whether a practice of Virtue tends to the Wealth or Poverty, Benefit or Disadvantage of a People? (London: R. Wilkin, 1725), 10–11, 18; FB 1.cxxvi. Blewitt argues that society would be better off without thieves, sickness, disasters, et al. He ← 76 | 77 → contends that locksmiths would not starve without thieves; they would find other useful means of employment, or at least their idleness would not matter since thieves would no longer exist. This means that vice is not necessary to society, nor is it the cause of wealth.
50. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, xiv, 81–83, 161–62; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 11. Mandeville mentions no public role for religion. He thinks. of Oliver Cromwell as a supreme hypocrite, using religion to incite his army, not Christian principles. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 179ff., 204–5, 217–18, 230–31, 239.
51. Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 104, 110, 114.
52. FB 1.228–29.
53. FB 2.105–6.
54. Schneider, Paradox and Society, 5–8, 13–14.
55. Bernard Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, The Church, and National Happiness, Irwin Primer (ed.) (New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction Publishers, 2001), 22; An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, ix–x, 129; FB 2.18–19; James, “Faith, Sincerity, and Morality,” 56–58; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 14, 132, 184.
56. Schneider, Paradox and Society, 104. Hume, Hutcheson, Smith, and Johnson are among these critics. TMS 494; Boswell’s Life of Johnson, George Birbeck Hill (ed.) (New York: Bigelow, Brown and Co., 1887), 3.331–33; “Hibernicus’s Letters,” in Bernard Fabian (ed.), Collected Works of Francis Hutcheson (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1971), 7.156–69.
57. Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, x; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 208–9.
58. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 81; Free Thoughts on Religion, 18; FB 2.50, 56, 336, 340, 345–47; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 15, 132.
59. James, “Faith, Sincerity, and Morality,” 57; Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 56.
60. Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, xii–xiii; FB 1.lv; 2.21–22. Goldsmith finds it difficult to believe the “fabulous elements of scriptual and classical mythology,” portrayed in the Mosaic account, and questions whether Mandeville believed this type of nonsense—at least as Cleomenes (Mandeville’s spokesman) portrays it in the second volume of the Fable. He thinks Horatio, the skeptical Deist, and his derision of Cleomenes’ belief actually represents Mandeville’s own ridicule; Mandeville only wants to hide his anti-Christian agenda by identifying with Cleomenes but making him look foolish. Monro thinks it is difficult to discern what Mandeville thinks about religion, but it is unlikely that he was a true believer. Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 148, 155–57, 177; Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits, 65, 75; FB 2.307–308. Cf. James, “Faith, Sincerity, and Morals,” 51.
61. FB 2.307–308, 317; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 155.
62. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, xvi, 98–100.
63. Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, 3, 62–63, 72–75; FB 1.382; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 160–61. Cf. James, “Faith, Sincerity, and Morals,” 48. He does not like doctrinal schisms in general. He thinks even the arguments over the Trinity between Athanasius and Arius should not have caused a division in the church. After all, the Trinity is a mystery, like doctrinal matters in general. Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, 51–52, 55–56, 59. ← 77 | 78 →
64. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 46–47, 51–52, 113–14; Free Thoughts on Religion, 35; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 156; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 148. He criticizes the clergy throughout the work, particularly the priests of the Catholic Church, but he also includes Protestant clergy in this criticism, even Calvin for his authoritarian ways. He does not consider the Protestant clergy as wretched, but they need to be warned lest they drift into the abuses of Catholicism. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 46–50, 105–8, 118–19; Free Thoughts on Religion, 155, 165; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 152–53.
65. Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, xxi, 16; Goldsmith Private Vices, Public Benefits, 94–95.
66. Ibid., 5, 141; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 160; Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits, 65. He finds the dissenters too extreme in their anti-Catholicism. Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, 38–39.
67. FB 2.310–11.
68. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 26–27, 38; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 151.
69. FB 2.220–21; An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 30–31.
70. Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, 2–3; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 166.
71. Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, i.
72. In his Free Thoughts, Mandeville draws many of his “concrete illustrations and documentary evidence” from the Dictionnaire, acknowledging the direct and continuous borrowing of material in the preface without bothering to provide credit in the main text. In his works, he displays a number of Bayle’s attitudes in discussing different subjects, including his metaphysical skepticism, religious toleration, and severe dichotomy between faith and reason. Free Thoughts on Religion, ii–iii, xviii–xix; Horne, Social Thought of Bernard Mandeville, 28. Bayle first came to Rotterdam when Mandeville was eleven years old and living there.
73. FB 1.ciii, cv.
74. FB 2.253, 256, 259–60.
75. FB 1.xcviiiff., cxxxix–cxl, 109–16, 299–300; An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, ix; Bernard Mandeville, A Letter to Dion (1732), in The Augustan Reprint Society (vol. 41), Jacob Viner (intro.) (Los Angeles: University of California, 1953), 11–14 (intro.). He allows for more government interference, control of trade, and taxation than the later, more radical proponents of laissez-faire capitalism. He thinks the “dexterous management of a skilful politician” can ensure a good result, although his overall system proceeds against this trend of deferring to the government. FB 1.115–16, 204, 249; An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, xix; Nathan Rosenberg, “Mandeville and Laissez-Faire,” Journal of the History of Ideas 24/2 (1963): 184–89.
76. FB 2 353.
77. FB 2.141–42; Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits, 64, 71–73.
78. Stephen G. Alter, “Mandeville’s Ship: Theistic Design and Philosophical History in Charles Darwin’s Vision of Natural Selection,” Journal of the History of Ideas 69/3 (2008): 457; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 176–77. ← 78 | 79 →
79. FB 1.143–44.
81. Alter, “Mandeville’s Ship,” 441–65.
82. Commerce, Culture, and Liberty, 518; Gay, Enlightenment, 2.354; Jacob Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” Journal of Political Philosophy 35/2 (1927): vii, 200. As early as 1749, he could say, “Projectors disturb nature in the course of her operations in human affairs, and it requires no more than to let her alone, and give her fair play in the pursuit of her ends that she may establish her own designs.” Gay, Enlightenment, 2.354; Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations (New York: The Modern Library, 1937), xliii. Some say Smith became more of a materialist after leaving France, and it is true that the Wealth of Nations possesses a less religious/moral texture than the Theory of Moral Sentiments.
83. Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 98–99.
84. Oser and Blanchfield, Evolution of Economic Thought, 59; Fox-Genovese, Economic Revolution, 101.
85. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 440–41, 450ff., 627. Hereafter the work is designated WN. Smith sees the land as constituting the most durable part of a nation’s wealth and even thinks of agriculture as “more productive” than the manufacturing sector, although he does not consider agriculture the only productive labor, unlike the physiocrats. He also thinks taxes should be levied on all goods. WN 241, 642, 851; Higgs, Physiocrats, 125–29; Routh, Origin of Economic Ideas, 100.
86. Higgs, Physiocrats, 48.
87. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics, 1976), 487–96. Smith does not consider the love of magnificence, the desire for elegant art, or the longing for a better life a simple vice. He thinks that virtue can be found in one who acts with the partial intent of receiving esteem or honor, as long as these rewards are sought in a praiseworthy manner and truly deserved. Human passions and self-interests are not “wholly vicious.”
88. See chap. 2, p. 54; Smith, “Letter to the Edinburgh Review,” 250; Theory of Moral Sentiments, 112–13; Schneider, Paradox and Society, 56; Hundert, “Bernard Mandeville,” 591–92; Force, “Self-Love, Identification, and the Origin,” 53–54; Monro, Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, 2; August Oncken, “The Consistency of Adam Smith,” The Economic Journal, 7/27 (1897): 448; FB 2.414–15; A. L. Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments as Foundation for His Wealth of Nations,” Oxford Economic Papers 11/3 (1959): 328; Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 102–3. The first edition of the Theory of Moral Sentiments mentions La Rochefoucauld, although he is eliminated in later editions at the request of the Duke’s grandson. His charge against Mandeville is never withdrawn. Theory of Moral Sentiments, 485ff. Hereafter, The Theory of Moral Sentiments is designated TMS.
89. Smith, “Letter to the Edinburgh Review,” 250.
90. R. H. Coase, “Adam Smith’s View of Man,” Journal of Law and Economics 19/3 (1976): 541–42. TMS and WN both stress self-interest, but the emphasis is stronger in the latter. TMS speaks more of the altruistic/sympathetic side of human beings. Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments,” 227; Force, “Self-Love, Identification, and the Origin,” 60–61.
91. TMS 482. ← 79 | 80 →
92. Oncken, “The Consistency of Adam Smith,” 446–47.
93. WN 14.
94. TMS 481–82; Coase, “Adam Smith’s View of Man,” 237; Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 103. Like Rousseau, Smith makes sympathy the central motif of his moral system and rejects deriving its altruistic desires from self-interest in toto. Sympathy might relate to an ability to “put myself in your situation,” but the grief involves your pain, not mine. TMS 501–2; Mandeville, An Enquiry into the Origin of Honour, 251; Force, “Self-Love, Identification, and the Origin,” 54–55; Coase, “Adam Smith’s View of Man,” 525. For Smith, human beings are motivated by all sorts of passions: “social passions, such as generosity, compassion, and esteem toward others; unsocial passions, such as hate and envy; and selfish passions, such as grief and joy.” Patricia H. Werhane, “The Role of Self-Interest in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations,” The Journal of Philosophy 86/11 (1989): 670–71. See TMS 76–77, 86–101.
95. TMS 493, 495; FB 2.414–15; Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments,” 228.
96. Smith, “Letter to the Edinburgh Review,” 253–54; Force, “Self-Love, Identification, and the Origin,” 58. Cf. “Letter to the Edinburgh Review,” 256.
97. TMS 113, 348–49. In TMS, he thinks one should seek God’s approval, not that of other human beings. TMS 218, 226–27.
98. TMS 112, 303–4; Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments,” 210–11.
99. TMS 264–65. See TMS 505–6.
100. Samuel Hollander, “Adam Smith and the Self-Interest Axiom,” Journal of Law and Economics 20/1 (1977): 134; WN vii; Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 212. Smith does not make substantial changes from 1759–1789 in the various editions of TMS, perhaps indicating its compatibility with WN in his mind. There are some differences in emphasis: ethics is more prominent in TMS, and self-interest in WN. Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments,” 210–11; Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 112–13; Force, “Self-Love, Identification, and the Origin,” 60–63. Cf. Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 201.
101. WN 14.
102. WN 14, 249, 423; Harvey C. Mansfield, “Self-Interest Rightly Understood,” Political Theory 23/1 (1995): 53; Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 209–13. Smith recognizes that certain manifestations of self-interest have dire economic consequences, like the indolence of aristocratic landowners and the institution of slavery. Slaves have little incentive to work. WN 365–66; Hollander, “Adam Smith and the Self-Interest Axiom,” 147.
103. WN 423.
104. TMS 304–5.
105. TMS 152; Coase, “Adam Smith’s View of Man,” 539, 545.
106. TMS 152, 166; Coase, “Adam Smith’s View of Man,” 548.
107. Coase, “Adam Smith’s View of Man,” 538; TMS 168–69.
108. TMS 152, 195; Higgs, Physiocrats, 143; Gay, Enlightenment, 2.361; Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 202, 206. WN tends to be less optimistic than TMS. The economic order is not always so harmonious in relating self-interest to the general welfare and happiness of each, but only works in “most cases.” Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 208. ← 80 | 81 →
109. Smith lives in the eighteenth century and follows the basic propensity of the times in making no distinction between science and philosophy, the empirical and the ideal. Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 95.
110. TMS 128, 272–73, 276–79. Like a Deist, he reduces religion to morality. TMS 281–82. He thinks of general moral rules as having many exceptions, but prefers general theory over detailed casuistic lists. TMS 287, 527, 534–35.
111. WN 56, 423, 650–51. Regulating the price in one area only causes the price to increase in another. “Whatever regulations tend to sink the price either of wool or of raw hides below what it naturally would be, must, in an improved and cultivated country, have some tendency to raise the price of butcher’s-meat.” WN 233.
112. WN 249–50, 440–41, 625; Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 213, 220. He rejects the concept of “Balance of Trade” as a silly notion that only protects the interest of some monopoly and hurts the consumer from purchasing at a cheaper price. Monopolies destroy fair market competition and often collude with the help of government to raise prices by under-stocking goods, depress wages, and increase their profits and emoluments. WN 424, 454–56, 625; Gay, Enlightenment, 2.366; Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 107–9. Smith also rejects the Mercantilist design to enrich a country through trade, not through industry or cultivation of the land. He thinks the sole end of production is the interests of the consumer for better and cheaper goods, although he has some sympathy with nations who retaliate with duties in response to like-policies of other nations. WN 434, 591, 625.
113. Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 231.
114. Ibid., 214–18; WN 651. See WN 227–28 for some specifics. He supports public education as a means of creating better citizens and improving the lot of the poor. WN 740; Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 227. He rejects the privileges of the certain few and wants a “level playing field.” He thinks workers deserve an equitable distribution of the “produce of their own labor,” but never proposes a system of economic redistribution.” Patricia H. Werhane, “The Role of Self-Interest in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations,” The Journal of Philosophy 86/11 (1989): 678; Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 228; Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 111.
115. TMS 263–64; Werhane, “The Role of Self-Interest,” 677–78; Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments,” 215.
116. TMS 161–62, 452, 446; WN 651; Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments,” 228; Viner, “Adam Smith and Laissez Faire,” 206; Harvey S. James and Farhad Rassekh, “Smith, Friedman, and Self-Interest in Ethical Society,” Business Ethics Quarterly 10/3 (2000): 663–64. He might acknowledge the benefits of vices like vanity, but he also withholds moral approval. Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 103–4.
117. Winch, “Scottish Moral Philosopher,” 104; James and Rassekh, “Smith, Friedman, and Self-Interest,” 661; Macfie, “Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments,” 209.
118. William Hazlitt, The Spirit of the Age 1825 (Menston, UK: Scholar Press, 1971), 253–54; Ideas and Beliefs of the Victorians (London: 1950), 43. Kenneth Smith says that one could find in most issues of the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews an article, reference, or allusion to the Malthusian debate. The Malthusian Controversy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1931), 49; Robert M. Young, “Malthus and the Evolutionists: The Common Context of Biological and Social Theory,” Past & Present 43 (1969): 114. ← 81 | 82 →
119. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Philip Appleman (ed.) (New York and London: W. W. Norton and Co., 1976), 16; James Allen Rogers, “Darwinism and Social Darwinism,” Journal of the History of Ideas 33/2 (1972): 269–70; Young, “Malthus and the Evolutionists,” 112–13.
120. Ibid., 11–18, 92.
121. Ibid., 118–22, 129; Rogers, “Darwinism and Social Darwinism,” 269–70.
122. Ibid., xiv–xv, 52–54; Barry Gale, “Darwin and the Concept of a Struggle for Existence,” ISIS 63/3 (1972): 338. Richard Cantillon (1680–1734), an Irish-French economist, had spoken of the relationship between subsistence and population, long before Malthus. Essai sur la nature du commerce en general (Londres: Fletcher Gyles, 1755), 96ff., 110.
123. Ibid., 20–23. He thinks progress in creating larger and better crops is limited. Ibid., 63.
124. Ibid., 37–39, 54–55, 134–35. In his later editions, Malthus thinks it is possible to lessen the misery and add some “moral restraint” to society, hoping for some future improvement. Ibid., xx, 131; Young, “Malthus amd the Evolutionists,” 140–41; Gale, “Darwin and the Concept of a Struggle for Existence,” 339–40. “However formidable these obstacles may have appeared in some parts of this work, it is hoped that the general result of the inquiry is such as not to make us give up the improvement of human society in despair.” Malthus, An Essay on Population [7th edition] (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1952), 2.262. Cf. Malthus, An Essay on Population 1798 (London: Macmillan and Co., 1926), 7–10. For example, he thinks it is wise to educate people about nature and tell them to marry later in life, when they are able to support children. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, xviii, 132, 136–39.
125. E.g., Ibid., 18, 97.
126. E.g., Ibid., 97–101.
127. Ibid., 44–47.
128. WN 79–80. He is not a simple disciple of Smith and expresses a number of differences throughout his account. Unlike Smith, he thinks the wealth of a nation might increase without benefiting the poor, especially if there is not enough food. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 102–111.
129. FB 2.141–44. This analogy is also found in Hume. David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, J. C. A. Gaskin (ed.) (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 69 [Part V]. He read Hume’s Dialogue in September of 1838 and Mandeville’s Fable (vol. 2) in April of 1840. Other capitalists like James Steuart followed the deist line of thinking in comparing the economy/universe to a watch that has no specific need for intervention/fixing. Sir James Steuart, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy , Andrew S. Skinner (intro. and ed.) (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1966), 1.278–79.
130. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, Ernst Mayr (ed.) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1964), 485–86. Both Malthus and Spencer offer critical comments about Mandeville’s work, but this criticism was typical of the day in trying to distance oneself from its dark sayings, and does not exclude fundamental influence. FB 2.439; Herbert Spencer, Social Statics  (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1969), 67–68; Mark Francis, “Herbert Spencer and the Myth of laissez-Faire,” Journal of the History of Ideas 39/2 (1978): 319, 325. Spencer wants to emphasize progress in his theory of evolution against Malthus. ← 82 | 83 → Young, “Malthus and the Evolutionists,” 136–37; Rogers, Darwinism and Social Darwinism,” 279–80. Malthus agrees with Mandeville that self-love is the primary impetus behind human activity, but he wants to leave some room for benevolence. An Essay on the Principle of Population (London, New York, and Melbourne: Ward, Locke, and Co., 1890), 533 (n.1).
131. Alfred Russel Wallace, My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions (London: Chapman and Hall, 1905), 1.232.
132. Alter, “Mandeville’s Ship,” 459; Peter Vorzimmer, “Darwin, Malthus, and the Theory of Natural Selection,” Journal of the History of Ideas 30/4 (1969): 30. Darwin certainly obtained inspiration from many other sources. His early interest in the problem of the adaptation of the species was stimulated by Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology in March of 1837 after his voyage on the Beagle. He particularly makes mention of Lyell’s emphasis upon the struggle for existence, even if Lyell rejected the mutability of the species. Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, Martin J. S. Rudwick (intro.) (Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 2.56, 174–75; Vorzimmer, “Darwin, Malthus, and the Theory of Natural Selection,” 532; Gale, “Darwin and the Concept of the Struggle for Existence,” 332–34; Young, “Malthus and the Evolutionists,” 129, 132. Many others saw life as a struggle before Darwin, with animals eating each other and controlling the population, like Erasmus Darwin, Charles Linnaeus, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Comte de Buffon.
133. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin and Selected Letters, Francis Darwin (ed.) (New York: Dover Publication, 1958), 1.42–43.
134. Charles Darwin, The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (London: John Murray, 1885), 1.10
135. “To A. R. Wallace” (April 6, 1859), in More Letters of Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin (ed.) (New York and London: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1972), 1.118.
136. Darwin, Origin of Species, 3.63.
137. Darwin, The Foundation of the Origin of Species: Two Essays Written in 1842−44, Francis Darwin (ed.) (Cambridge, 1909), 88.
138. TM 157–58; Darwin, Origin of Species, 3.62–79; The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (Akron, OH: The Werner Co., ca. 1910), 145 (I, v), 621 (II, xxi).
139. Peter J. Bowler, “Malthus, Darwin, and the Concept of Struggle,” Journal of the History of Ideas 37/4 (Oct.–Dec. 1976): 635, 647–48; Rogers, “Darwinism and Social Darwinism,” 270–71. Darwin also uses capitalist themes when discussing the evolution of social instincts/morals. He speaks of sympathy as beneficial to the evolution of the human species and the place of honor in developing the social instinct, which he relates to the “greatest happiness principle” in reconciling the “self-regarding virtues” with public benefit. Descent of Man, 625–26 [Part III, chap. xxi].
140. Gale, “Darwin and the Concept of the Struggle for Existence,” 344.
141. John Maynard Keynes, The End of Laissez-Faire: The Economic Consequences of the Peace (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2004), 20–21, 31; Mark Francis, “Herbert Spencer and the Myth of Laissez-Faire,” Journal of the History of Ideas 39/2 (1978): 319.
142. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text, Morse Peckham (ed.) (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959), 145 (III, 15, 1:e), 164–65 (IV, 13:e, 14.1–2:c–14.9:c), 757 (xiv, 256:f); “To Herbert Spencer” (Nov. 25, 1858) and “To J. D. Hooker” (Dec. 10, 1866), in The Life and Letters of Darwin, Francis Darwin (ed.) (London: ← 83 | 84 → John Murray, 1887), 2.141; 3.55–56. Herbert Spencer began using the basic concept of “survival of the fittest” as early as 1852. Herbert Spencer, “A Theory of Population, Deduced from the General Law of Animal Fertility,” Westminster Review (April, 1852): 468–501; Rogers, “Darwinism and Social Darwinism,” 266. His usage and concept antedates Darwin’s natural selection by several years but draws inspiration from Malthus, much like Darwin and Wallace. J. W. Burrow, Evolution and Society (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1966), 183; Young, “Malthus and the Evolutionists,” 134. Spencer relates Darwin’s concept of natural selection to his own. Principles of Ethics (Osnabruck: Zeller, 1966), 1.548; Robert Perrin, “Herbert Spencer’s Four Theories of Social Evolution,” American Journal of Sociology 81/6 (1976): 1356. From the publication of The Man Versus the State (1884), he became a more radical advocate of laissez-faire political theory, rejecting policies that worked against nature in promoting the survival of the weak. Francis, “Herbert Spencer and the Myth of Laissez-Faire,” 328; Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics, 1981), 109–14.
143. Darwin, Descent of Man, 136 (I, v).
144. Ibid., 139 (I, v).
145. Darwin, Life and Letters, 1.316.
146. Jennifer Burns, “Godless Capitalism: Ayn Rand and the Conservative Movement,” Modern Intellectual History 1/3 (2004): 360; William F. Buckley, God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of “Academic Freedom” (Chicago, IL: Regnery Co., 1951), xiv, 22, 35–36, 51, 56ff., 161–67, 171, 233.
147. Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet Book, 1964), x, 17, 30.
148. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Plume Book, 2005), 370–71, 480; Virtue of Selfishness, 58; “What is Capitalism?,” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet Book, 1967), 29–30.
149. Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 883; Virtue of Selfishness, 51–52.
150. Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), 94, 122, 138, 162.
151. Rand, Virtue of Selfishness, 24, 42.
152. Einstein says, “Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be.” Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions (New York: The Modern Library, 1994), 33, 45, 48, 54.