Essays on Swift and his Contemporaries in Honour of Hermann J. Real
Edited By Kirsten Juhas, Patrick Müller and Mascha Hansen
VII. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY STUDIES
ECONOMIC DISCOURSE AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL REFLECTION IN THE LITERATURE OF EARLY EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND: A PARTY-POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE Heinz-Joachim Müllenbrock, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen I As England was emerging ever more noticeably as an economic power in the early eighteenth century, it is not at all surprising that economic discourse also gained in significance in the context of the discussion of man as a social being. This fundamental discussion was traditionally conducted on the basis of assump- tions taken from natural law theory. My guiding questions run as follows: How does this discourse present itself from a party-political perspective? Is it possible to detect contrasts, differences, or similarities? These questions are all the more apposite as English literature of the early eighteenth century in particular is characterized by a fairly distinct dichotomy according to either Whig or Tory sympathies among authors.1 II I start with the findings which result from an examination of the writings of Whig-oriented authors.2 John Locke, who exerted far-reaching influence as an authority on political philosophy for a long time, can serve as a suitable starting- point. In Two Treatises of Government (1690), he employed his value-creating concept of labour and made the acquisition of property the cornerstone of his system, defining man (a being whose essential sociability he took for granted) in his natural state in such a manner that man was sent on his way to the establish- ment of civil society as an economic animal. This position is commonly known as possessive individualism.3 Although the...
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