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18th century Dutch philosopher, physician and satirist
Bernard Mandeville

Bernard Mandeville, or Bernard de Mandeville (15 November 1670 – 21 January 1733), was an Anglo-Dutch philosopher, political economist and satirist. Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he lived most of his life in England and used English for most of his published works. He became famous for The Fable of the Bees.


Bernard Mandeville, by Victor L. Nuovo, The Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century British Philosophers
Includes bibliography, related works and suggestions for further reading
Mandeville's fame or notoriety derives from The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits, first published in 1714. The work is constructed around a satirical poem, The Grumbling Hive; or, Knaves turn'd Honest, originally published as a pamphlet in 1705. ... In fact, most of Mandeville's works subsequent to the first edition of The Fable of the Bees are elaborations or defences of the argument of that work. Thus, Mandeville's literary output, or most of it, is the product of a single philosophical programme whose central theme is the ambivalence of modern civil society and of civic virtue.
Mandeville, Bernard (1670-1733), by George H. Smith, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Bernard Mandeville, a Dutch physician who settled in London shortly after earning his degree in medicine at the University of Leyden, is best known as the controversial author of The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits (6th ed., 1729). ... Written over a period of 24 years, it began as a brief poem, 'The Grumbling Hive: or, Knaves Turn'd Honest' (1705). In later years (beginning in 1714), Mandeville appended a number of essays, remarks, and dialogues to subsequent editions until what began as a poem of 433 lines came to fill two substantial volumes.


1670, in Rotterdam, Netherlands


21 Jan 1733, in London

Web Pages

Bernard Mandeville - Online Library of Liberty
Includes short biography, links to versions of Mandeville's works and to selected quotations
Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733) was born in Holland in 1670 into a family of physicians and naval officers. He received his degree of Doctor of Medicine at Leiden in 1691 and began to practice as a specialist in nerve and stomach disorders, his father's specialty. Perhaps after a tour of Europe, he ended up in London, where he soon learned the language and decided to stay. ... His most famous work, The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, came out in more than half a dozen editions beginning in 1714 (the poem The Grumbing Hive upon which it was based appeared in 1705) ...


Selected Bibliography: Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), by Charles W. A. Prior, 28 Aug 2004
International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; includes list of various editions of Mandeville's works as well as books and essays by others criticizing his writings
Very little is known about Mandeville's life, outside of what can be gleaned from the writings. However, much is made of what there is by Kaye (1924), and by Irwin Primer, 'Bernard Mandeville,' Dictionary of Literary Biography 101 (1991): 220-39. See also M. M. Goldsmith's entry in the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


Adam Smith—"I had almost forgot that I was the author of the inquiry concerning The Wealth of Nations", by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Mar 1995
Biographical essay
How did Smith discover the wondrous effects of self-interest? Well, he was a remarkably perceptive person who spent years in a thriving commercial center, so he must have learned much from his own observations. Smith scholar Edwin Cannan thought that the Dutch doctor Bernard Mandeville must have influenced Smith's thinking, too, with his provocative satire The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Publick Benefits (expanded edition, 1729). In it, Mandeville scandalized high-minded folks by suggesting that self-interest is good, because it leads people to serve each other and help society prosper.
Barack Obama: The Anti Economic Growth President, by Jim Powell, 29 Feb 2012
Lists and criticizes several of Obama's policies and proposals and discusses why economic growth and progress is beneficial
[Adam] Smith showed how people could create unlimited amounts of wealth peacefully. He developed an idea expressed by the French thinker Bernard Mandeville who, in 1714, had written The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Public Benefits. The idea was that when people pursue their self-interest by trying to make a profit (a private vice), they must provide something other people consider useful and are willing to pay for (a public benefit). Peaceful trade takes place when each party voluntarily exchanges something they have for something they want more, and both parties benefit.
Bernard Mandeville: Philosopher of the Month, by Alex Voorhoeve, The Philosophers' Magazine, Oct 2003
Short biographical essay examining the main themes in Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees
Thus, through flattery, people are instilled with a sense of pride and shame, the two emotions that ready us for society. Once part of society, people's desire to see themselves admired and their inexhaustible desires for goods spur industry and the division of labour, through which wealth increases. Therefore, it is vanity and all its attendant vices that, when properly managed, make a society function and prosper. As Mandeville puts it: 'what we call Evil in this World [...] is the Grand Principle that makes us sociable Creatures.'
The Fable of the Bees Tells the Story of Society, by Richard Ebeling, 15 Nov 2016
Discusses the "moral" of Mandeville's work The Fable of the Bees, that "prosperous, wealthy and great societies only arise from men's self-interested desires"
Mandeville argued that it was precisely through men pursuing their material self-interest–including "greed" and human pleasure–that all improvements in society come about. In the poem, Mandeville imagines a hive of bees that copies in its every detail and activity everything seen in human society ... Yet, as far as Mandeville was concerned, he saw himself to be merely bringing out the reality of human nature, and the working of self-interest and incentives in society as the motivational basis for human association and the source of human progress and improvement.
Related Topics: Economics, Society
Francis Hutcheson: teacher of Adam Smith, by Murray N. Rothbard, Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, 1995
Section 15.2: discusses Hutcheson's life, the main economic themes in his writings and his criticism of Mandeville
Hutcheson's most impressive achievement was his sharp rebuttal of the satiric Bernard de Mandeville (1670–1733), whose enormously popular Fable of the Bees, or, Private Vices, Public Benefits was published in 1714, and expanded and reprinted in several editions over the next 15 years In a pre-Physiocratic, proto-Keynesian piece of mischief, the Fable maintained that the vice of luxury, no matter how deplorable, performs the important economic function of maintaining the prosperity of the economy ... Mandeville stressed the alleged paradox of 'private vice, public benefits' ...
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Bernard Mandeville v. Francis Hutcheson, by George H. Smith, 23 Jan 2015
Discusses the views of Hobbes and Mandeville regarding society and the need for government and the critiques of the latter made by Hutcheson and Adam Smith
... Mandeville substituted vanity and pride for Hobbesian fear in his explanation of how self-interest can be manipulated by government so as to make social order possible. ... Although Mandeville discussed and defended his thesis in detail throughout both volumes of The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits, it would serve no purpose to follow him further. It should be noted, however, that this aspect of Mandeville's social theory does not harmonize with his reputation as a pioneer in the theory of spontaneous order and social evolution.
Related Topics: Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith
Self-Interest and Social Order in Classical Liberalism: Bernard Mandeville, by George H. Smith, 9 Jan 2015
Discusses interpretations of Mandeville's "private vices", his defense of psychological egoism and the movement to curtail personal vices in England at the turn of the 18th century
Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), a Dutch physician who settled in London shortly after earning his degree in medicine at the University of Leyden, is best known as the author of The Fable of the Bees; or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits (6th ed., 1729), a work that provoked enormous controversy throughout the eighteenth century. Mandeville developed a number of important themes, most notably the role of self-interest (so-called "vices") in generating a prosperous social order, that would play a crucial role in later libertarian thought.


The Grumbling Hive: or, Knaves Turn'd Honest, 1705
Edited by Jack Lynch, transcribed from the 1705 edition, with some illegible passages taken from the 1714 edition of The Fable of the Bees
The Root of evil Avarice,
That damn'd ill-natur'd baneful Vice,
Was Slave to Prodigality,
That Noble Sin; whilst Luxury.
Employ'd a Million of the Poor,
And odious Pride a Million more
Thus Vice nursed Ingenuity,
Which join'd with Time;and Industry
Had carry'd Life's Conveniencies,
It's real Pleasures, Comforts, Ease,
To such a Height, the very Poor
Lived better than the Rich before;
And nothing could be added more:


How do you differ from Hayek's interpretation of Mandeville?, by Murray N. Rothbard, 13 Jul 2009
Short clip of Rothbard responding to Hayek's assessment of Mandeville (note the recording date is probably about two decades earlier than the posting date)
Related Topic: F. A. Hayek


Bernard Mandeville, by Marginal Revolution University, Great Economists: Classical Economics and Its Forerunners, 20 Jun 2015
Discusses Mandeville's contributions to economics in his work The Fable of the Bees

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bernard Mandeville" as of 3 Jun 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.