The writings of Bernard Mandeville mark an important transition between enlightenment, social philosophy, and modern science. Born in Holland in 1670 and educated as a physician, Mandeville spent the greater part of his working life in England, where he died in 1733. In some respects, Mandeville can be compared to Voltaire - Mandeville's junior by twenty-four years.Mandeville had the knack of making controversies volcanic and of arousing heated debate about any topic on which he chose to comment - and he chose to comment on virtually everything. He was especially1 interested in social evolution, morality and society, prostitution and romantic love, crime and its deterrence, and in social aspects of religion. His views on these and countless other topics cohere in his continual fascination with the consequences of social and economic actions that run counter to anticipations and intentions and in the paradoxical or ironic cast that such outcomes often have. In Paradox and Society, Louis Schneider is the first to offer a full consideration of Mandeville as a sociologist.Schneider offers an intellectual and characterological portrait of Mandeville, examining his writings and reactions to him over time. Schneider goes on to review Mandeville's theory of human nature, and explores his hotly contested notion of the paradox of private vices and public benefits - that the arousal of desires is a necessary precondition for the stimulation of social and economic development.Social action outside the marketplace, and Mandeville's problematic theory of social evolution, are next considered. The volume ends with an examination of paradox, irony, and satire in society. In this detailed analysis of one of the world's most controversial social critics, Schneider shows us that Mandeville offers a vision of human society that is of enduring significance. He challenges the reader to consider how that vision might operate in today's world.
Table of Contents
1. Bernard Mandeville: Observations in Lieu of a Biography 2. Human Nature and the Foundations of Society 3. Private Vice and Public Benefit: Echoes of the Battle of the Bees 4. Economic Interest, the Market, and Society 5. The Consequences of Social Action and the Theme of Evolution 6. Paradox, Irony, and Satire