Mandeville’s Influence

Bernard Mandeville was a Dutch writer and economist from the 18th century. His most famous work is the Grumbling Hive (1705) and his defense of that poem The Fable of the Bees (1714), which included the former work in it. Both of these poems are based on a bee hive that represents human society. It explains how Mandeville thinks society, particularly economics, should really be. His two most important ideas from these poems are namely that people are driven by selfishness and that there is a certain spontaneous order that comes to society. However, Mandeville’s poems were written terribly and they aren’t great examples of writing. So why did Mandeville come down in history as important?

The two main ideas from Mandeville’s works are spontaneous order and selfishness. Looking at the work of Adam Smith, a Scottish economist and philosopher, The Wealth of Nations, we find these two ideas as the base of Smith’s philosophy. Continue reading

Adam Smith

Adam SmithAdam Smith (1723 – 1790), one of the greatest figures in the Scottish Enlightenment, is significant because he introduced economics as a separate field of study. In his book, The Wealth of Nations (1776), Smith talks about several economic topics, among them self-interest.

Concerning self-interest, he raises the question: is self-interest morally acceptable? His answer is yes. You must have interest in yourself and your family for several reasons. One is because it brings about trade. It is in my self-interest to buy your goods and it is in your self-interest to sell them. We both gain: I the goods, you the money.

Another topic in his book is the ‘invisible hand.’ According to Adam Smith, this hand is what Continue reading