Monday, September 2, 2019

Private Vices, Public Benefits

The ancient philosophers believed that only virtuous people can build a good society. If Plato and Aristotle were asked whether selfish and greedy men could create a good society, they would have immediately said, “there is no chance.” In the modern age, some philosophers realized that people with vices (the greedy, ruthless, and selfish kind of people) are better at building a good society than those who possess the so-called classical virtues. The virtue of greed, ruthlessness, and selfishness was first explained by Bernard Mandeville, who coined the famous slogan “Private Vices, Public Benefits,” in his The Fable of the Bees, published as a poem in 1705 and as a book in 1714. Mandeville’s ideas have inspired the works of David Hume, Adam Smith, and a few other free market oriented thinkers of the 18th century.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Riding the same wave length. Currently reading Giacomo Leopardi's Search for a common life through poetry. By Frank Rosengarten. Leopardi, an aristocrat believed he could transform social conscience in the political arena by combining philosophy with his poetry. Similar in view to the Philosopher Kings, he wrote how a select group of aristocrats, with full awareness of their biases, could overcome their subjective interests and serve the masses as their leaders. Their 'idleness' could be put to good use considering their intellectual powers were far superior from the common man. A pessimist though. Which is why I admire him. Few can accept the fact that life really has nothing to do with happiness. It's our subjectivity that has connected the two together.