Welcome to my Mandeville pages!
For help with this site see
and for more philosophy: Philosophy.
This part of my site is given to
one of the few philosophers that stem from Holland
of which I am proud: Bernard Mandeville, who was
born in Rotterdam, studied in Leiden, and lived most
of his life as a doctor of medicine in London.
He lived in the 18th Century, and
wrote a beautifully clear and satiric English. He
got famous - indeed so infamous that his
contemporaries restyled is name as "Man-devil" -
with the Fable of the Bees, which gives a plausible if satirical
explanation for social life, social welfare, and
social progress: Most of it is - in real fact -
firmly based on what have been called vices from times
immemorial, in all books of religion.
of the Bees was
first published as a poem, and was later, in several
editions adorned with a very satirical explanation
and comments by Mandeville.
Mandeville himself was "answered"
by most of his famous contemporaries, but not very
well, except for the amazing Bishop Butler.
I believe that Mandeville saw deep
into the real causes of social wealth and welfare,
and into the real hearts and desires of most men and
women - for which reason he - and others like him, such as Juvenal,
Lucian, Swift and Orwell -
has not at all been
popular with ordinary people.
The edition at present on this
site is that of Jack Lynch, who is an Associate
Professor of English who also has interesting things
to say on style and writing. At present all I have available is
the poem "The Fable of the Bees", and not Mandeville's accompanying
It may interest some that John Maynard Keynes
quotes Mandeville with considerable approval in his "The
General Theory of Employment and Money" as one
of his own precursors, and spends some 4 pages of text
and quotation on him (in chapter 23, pages 359-362 in
my edition). Here is the start of Keynes' discussion:
But it was by Bernard Mandeville's Fable of the
Bees that Barbon's opinion [Covetousness is a
Vice, prejudicial both to Man and Trade] was mainly
popularised, a book convicted as a nuisance by the
grand jury of Middlesex in 1723, which stands out in
the history of the moral sciences for its scandalous
reputation. Only one man is recorded as having
spoken a good word for it, namely Dr. Johnson, who
declared that it did not puzzle him, but "opened his
eyes into real life very much"" (p. 359)
I wish you pleasurable and
instructive reading and computing!