Paradox and Society: The Work of Bernard Mandeville

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887381126
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1987
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis Schneider was professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, Colgate University, College, Dartmouth College, Purdue University, the University of Illinois, and finally the University of Texas at Austin, before his death in 1979. Among his several books are The Sociological Way of Looking at the World, The Scottish Moralists on Human Nature and Society, and Popular Religions.

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