Bernard Mandeville

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bernard Mandeville (or Bernard de Mandeville) (baptised November 20 1670, died January 21 1733) was a Dutch physician, poet and social philosopher who settled in England. Most of his works, including his controversial satire The Fable of the Bees, were written in English.


The Fable of the Bees (1714)[edit]

Quotations are cited from the 1732 edition.

Title page
  • They that examine into the Nature of Man, abstract from Art and Education, may observe, that what renders him a Sociable Animal, consists not in his desire of Company, Good-nature, Pity, Affability, and other Graces of a fair Outside; but that his vilest and most hateful Qualities are the most necessary Accomplishments to fit him for the largest, and, according to the World, the happiest and most flourishing Societies.
    • Preface
  • If laying aside all worldly Greatness and Vain-Glory, I should be ask'd where I thought it was most probable that Men might enjoy true Happiness, I would prefer a small peaceable Society, in which Men, neither envy'd nor esteem'd by Neighbours, should be contented to live upon the Natural Product of the Spot they inhabit, to a vast Multitude abounding in Wealth and Power, that should always be conquering others by their Arms Abroad, and debauching themselves by Foreign Luxury at Home.
    • Preface
  • Vast Numbers throng'd the fruitful Hive;
    Yet those vast Numbers made 'em thrive;
    Millions endeavouring to supply
    Each other's Lust and Vanity.
    • "The Grumbling Hive", line 31, p. 3
  • They put off hearings wilfully,
    To finger the refreshing fee.
    • "The Grumbling Hive", line 65, p. 4
  • Thus every Part was full of Vice,
    Yet the whole Mass a Paradise;
    Flatter'd in Peace, and fear'd in Wars,
    They were th' Esteem of Foreigners,
    And lavish of their Wealth and Lives,
    The Balance of all other Hives.
    • "The Grumbling Hive", line 155, p. 9
  • The worst of all the Multitude
    Did something for the Common Good.
    • "The Grumbling Hive", line 167, p. 9
  • Luxury
    Employ'd a Million of the Poor,
    And odious Pride a Million more;
    Envy it self, 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.
    • "The Grumbling Hive", line 180, p. 10
  • Thus Vice nurs'd Ingenuity,
    Which join'd with Time and Industry,
    Had carry'd Life's Conveniences,
    It's real Pleasures, Comforts, Ease,
    To such a Height, the very Poor
    Liv'd better than the Rich before.
    • "The Grumbling Hive", line 197, p. 11
  • Then leave Complaints: Fools only strive
    To make a Great an Honest Hive.
    T'enjoy the World's Conveniences,
    Be fam'd in War, yet live in Ease,
    Without great Vices, is a vain
    Eutopia seated in the Brain.
    • "The Moral", line 1, p. 23
  • So Vice is beneficial found,
    When it's by Justice lopt and bound;
    Nay, where the People would be great,
    As necessary to the State,
    As Hunger is to make 'em eat.
    Bare Virtue can't make Nations live
    In Splendor; they, that would revive
    A Golden Age, must be as free,
    For Acorns, as for Honesty.
    • "The Moral", line 17, p. 24
  • The first Rudiments of Morality, broach'd by skilful Politicians, to render Men useful to each other as well as tractable, were chiefly contrived that the Ambitious might reap the more Benefit from, and govern vast Numbers of them with the greater Ease and Security.
    • "An Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue", p. 33
  • It is visible then that it was not any Heathen Religion or other Idolatrous Superstition, that first put Man upon crossing his Appetites and subduing his dearest Inclinations, but the skilful Management of wary Politicians; and the nearer we search into human Nature, the more we shall be convinced, that the Moral Virtues are the Political Offspring which Flattery begot upon Pride.
    • "An Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue", p. 37
  • The Multitude will hardly believe the excessive Force of Education, and in the difference of Modesty between Men and Women ascribe that to Nature, which is altogether owing to early Instruction: Miss is scarce Three years old, but she is spoke to every Day to hide her Leg, and rebuk'd in good Earnest if she shews it; while Little Master at the same Age is bid to take up his Coats, and piss like a Man.
    • Remark C, p. 63
  • Because Impudence is a Vice, it does not follow that Modesty is a Virtue; it is built upon Shame, a Passion in our Nature, and may be either Good or Bad according to the Actions perform'd from that Motive.
    • Remark C, p. 65
  • People of Substance may Sin without being expos'd for their stolen Pleasure; but Servants and the Poorer sort of Women have seldom an Opportunity of concealing a Big Belly, or at least the Consequences of it.
    • Remark C, p. 66
  • This laudable quality is commonly known by the name of Manners and Good-breeding, and consists in a Fashionable Habit, acquir'd by Precept and Example, of flattering the Pride and Selfishness of others, and concealing our own with Judgment and Dexterity.
    • Remark C, p. 69
  • If Courtezans and Strumpets were to be prosecuted with as much Rigour as some silly People would have it, what Locks or Bars would be sufficient to preserve the Honour of our Wives and Daughters?
    • Remark H, p. 95
  • What have the Aldermen, the Common-Council, or indeed all People of any Substance to do with the War, but to pay Taxes? The Hardships and Fatigues of War that are personally suffer'd, fall upon them that bear the Brunt of every Thing, the meanest Indigent Part of the Nation, the working slaving People.
    • Remark L, p. 120
  • I have often thought, if it was not for this Tyranny which Custom usurps over us, that Men of any tolerable Good-nature could never be reconcil'd to the killing of so many Animals for their daily Food, as long as the bountiful Earth so plentifully provides them with Varieties of vegetable Dainties.
    • Remark P, p. 187
  • But in such perfect Animals as Sheep and Oxen, in whom the Heart, the Brain and Nerves differ so little from ours, and in whom the Separation of the Spirits from the Blood, the Organs of Sense, and consequently Feeling it self, are the same as they are in Human Creatures; I can't imagine how a Man not hardened in Blood and Massacre, is able to see a violent Death, and the Pangs of it, without Concern. In answer to this, most People will think it sufficient to say, that all Things being allow'd to be made for the Service of Man, there can be no Cruelty in putting Creatures to the use they were design'd for; but I have heard Men make this Reply, whilst their Nature within them has reproach'd them with the Falshood of the Assertion.
    • Remark P, pp. 187-8
  • Some People are not to be persuaded to taste of any Creatures they have daily seen and been acquainted with, while they were alive; others extend their Scruple no further than to their own Poultry, and refuse to eat what they fed and took care of themselves; yet all of them will feed heartily and without Remorse on Beef, Mutton and Fowls when they are bought in the Market. In this Behaviour, methinks, there appears something like a Consciousness of Guilt, it looks as if they endeavor'd to save themselves from the Imputation of a Crime (which they know sticks somewhere) by removing the cause of it as far as they can from themselves; and I can discover in it some strong remains of Primitive Pity and Innocence, which all the arbitrary Power of Custom, and the violence of Luxury, have not yet been able to conquer.
    • Remark P, pp. 188-9
  • 'Tis only Man, mischievous Man, that can make Death a Sport. Nature taught your Stomach to crave nothing but Vegetables; but your violent Fondness to change, and greater Eagerness after Novelties, have prompted you to the Destruction of Animals without Justice or Necessity, perverted your Nature and warp'd your Appetites which way soever your Pride or Luxury have call'd them.
    • Remark P, pp. 193-4
  • One good Man may take another's Word, if they so agree, but a whole Nation ought never to trust to any Honesty, but what is built upon Necessity; for unhappy is the People, and their Constitution will be ever precarious, whose Welfare must depend upon the Virtues and Consciences of Ministers and Politicians.
    • Remark Q, pp. 207-8
  • The only thing of weight that can be said against modern Honour is, that it is directly opposite to Religion. The one bids you bear Injuries with Patience, the other tells you if you don't resent them, you are not fit to live.
    • Remark R, p. 245
  • Ashamed of the many Frailties they feel within, all Men endeavour to hide themselves, their Ugly Nakedness, from each other, and wrapping up the true Motives of their Hearts in the Specious Cloke of Sociableness, and their Concern for the publick Good, they are in hopes of concealing their filthy Appetites and the Deformity of their Desires.
    • Remark T, p. 262
  • We seldom call any body lazy, but such as we reckon inferior to us, and of whom we expect some Service.
    • Remark V, p. 267
  • Pride and Vanity have built more Hospitals than all the Virtues together.
    • "An Essay on Charity, and Charity-Schools", p. 294
  • No Habit or Quality is more easily acquir'd than Hypocrisy, nor any thing sooner learn'd than to deny the Sentiments of our Hearts and the Principle we act from: But the Seeds of every Passion are innate to us, and no body comes into the World without them.
    • "An Essay on Charity, and Charity-Schools", p. 319
  • Knowledge both enlarges and multiplies our Desires, and the fewer things a Man wishes for, the more easily his Necessities may be supply'd.
    • "An Essay on Charity, and Charity-Schools", p. 328
  • There is no Intrinsick Worth in Money but what is alterable with the Times, and whether a Guinea goes for Twenty Pounds or for a Shilling, it is … the Labour of the Poor, and not the high and low value that is set on Gold or Silver, which all the Comforts of Life must arise from.
    • "An Essay on Charity, and Charity-Schools", p. 345
  • What a vast Traffick is drove, what a variety of Labour is performed in the World to the Maintenance of Thousands of Families that altogether depend on two silly if not odious Customs; the taking of Snuff and smoking of Tobacco; both which it is certain do infinitely more hurt than good to those that are addicted to them!
    • "A Search into the Nature of Society", p. 415
  • I flatter my self to have demonstrated that, neither the Friendly Qualities and kind Affections that are natural to Man, nor the real Virtues he is capable of acquiring by Reason and Self-Denial, are the Foundation of Society; but that what we call Evil in this World, Moral as well as Natural, is the grand Principle that makes us sociable Creatures, the solid Basis, the Life and Support of all Trades and Employments without Exception: That there we must look for the true Origin of all Arts and Sciences, and that the Moment Evil ceases, the Society must be spoiled, if not totally dissolved.
    • "A Search into the Nature of Society", p. 428
  • Private Vices by the dextrous Management of a skilful Politician may be turned into Publick Benefits.
    • "A Search into the Nature of Society", p. 428

Quotes about Mandeville[edit]

  • La doctrine économique d'Adam Smith, c'est la doctrine de Mandeville, exposée sous une forme non plus paradoxale et littéraire, mais rationnelle et scientifique.
    • The economic doctrine of Adam Smith is the doctrine of Mandeville set out in a form which is no longer paradoxical and literary, but rational and scientific.
    • Élie Halévy La formation du radicalisme philosophique (Paris: F. Alcan, 1901-4) vol. 1, p. 162; Mary Morris (trans.) The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism (Clifton, N.J.: A. M. Kelley, 1972) p. 90
  • That we do not know why we do what we do, and that the consequences of our decisions are often very different from what we imagine them to be, are the two foundations of that satire on the conceits of a rationalist age which was his initial aim... [T]he speculations to which that je d'esprit led him mark the definite breakthrough in modern thought of the twin ideas of evolution and of the spontaneous formation of an order... Though Mandeville may have contributed little to the answers of particular questions of social and economic theory, he did, by asking the right questions, show that there was an object for a theory in this field. Perhaps in no case did he precisely show how an order formed itself without design, but he made it abundantly clear that it did, and thereby raised the questions to which theoretical analysis, first in the social sciences and later in biology, could address itself.
  • I do not intend to pitch my claim on behalf of Mandeville higher than to say that he made Hume possible. It is indeed my estimate of Hume as perhaps the greatest of all modern students of mind and society which makes Mandeville appear to me so important. It is only in Hume's work that the significance of Mandeville's efforts becomes wholly clear, and it was through Hume that he exercised his most lasting influence. Yet to have given Hume some of his leading conceptions seems to me sufficient title for Mandeville to qualify as a master mind.
  • How much Mandeville's contribution meant we recognise when we look at the further development of those conceptions which Hume was the first and greatest to take up and elaborate. This development includes...the great Scottish moral philosophers of the second half of the century, above all Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson, the latter of whom, with his phrase about the "results of human action but not of human design", has provided not only the best brief statement of Mandeville's central problem but also the best definition of the task of all social theory... [T]he tradition which Mandeville started includes Edmund Burke, and, largely through Burke, all those "historical schools" which, chiefly on the Continent, and through men like Herder and Savigny, made the idea of evolution a commonplace in the social sciences of the nineteenth century long before Darwin. And it was in this atmosphere of evolutionary thought in the study of society, where "Darwinians before Darwin" had long thought in terms of the prevailing of more effective habits and practices, that Charles Darwin at last applied the idea systemically to biological organisms. I do not, of course, mean to suggest that Mandeville had any direct influence on Darwin (though David Hume probably had). But it seems to me that in many respects Darwin is the culmination of a development which Mandeville more than any other single man has started.
  • The fallacy of that book is, that Mandeville defines neither vices nor benefits. He reckons among vices everything that gives pleasure. He takes the narrowest system of morality, monastick morality, which holds pleasure itself to be a vice, such as eating salt with our fish, because it makes it taste better; and he reckons wealth as a publick benefit, which is by no means always true. Pleasure of itself is not a vice.

External links[edit]

Encyclopedic article on Bernard Mandeville on Wikipedia

Classical economists
Francis Hutcheson · Bernard Mandeville · David Hume · Adam Smith · Jean-Baptiste Say · Thomas Malthus · James Mill · Francis Place · David Ricardo · Henry Thornton · John Ramsay McCulloch · James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale · Jeremy Bentham · Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi · Johann Heinrich von Thünen · John Stuart Mill · Henry Charles Carey · Nassau William Senior · Edward Gibbon Wakefield · John Rae · Frédéric Bastiat · Thomas Tooke · Robert Torrens