Biography of Bernard de Mandeville (1670-1733)

Philosopher and English physician of French origin. His thinking goes as argumentative and aggressive note in the context of the English moralism prior to the Enlightenment, which was looking for, especially with Shaftesbury, a radical improvement of the antinomy virtud-felicidad, to recover in some way against Hobbes, an optimistic view of human nature. Mandeville protest against that optimism in the series of writings titled fable of the bees, or private vices, public benefits (1705). This poem refers to a hive that symbolically represents the situation of England at the time. Bees, dedicated to their work, rich, refined, are unable to understand that vices and faults of honesty, that regret continuously, constitute the real foundation of their prosperity, and insist on pray to the gods that they clear their hive of all those vices. Finally the gods agree to your request, and transform their hearts by giving them an absolute honesty. But, along with the evils, prosperity also leaves the hive. The apolog is that honest bees are reduced to the status of mere subsistence animals. The fable is directed against those thinkers that they described the man as spontaneously benevolent and non-aggressive, and who refused to recognize that the human vices are the real basis of the material advantages associated with the nascent Industrial Revolution. For Mandeville, the man is inherently aggressive and competitive, only that, unlike Hobbes, Mandeville thinks that man, in search of superiority over his fellows, is able to spontaneously build instruments that masked and disguised his own aggressiveness: good manners, virtue, honour.

In consequence, when the State, has been the war is replaced by forms of competition which represent human progress databases: man not fight to kill, but to be appreciated, admired and envied. To achieve this it will be transformed into rich, cultured and refined and acting as well, it will give work to the poor and will contribute to the economic well-being of the nation. That is why, thanks to his theory of spontaneous individual interests harmony, becomes forerunner of the ideas of A. Smith.Otras works: investigation into the origin of honour and the usefulness of Christianity in war (1732), free thoughts on religion, the Church, and national happiness (1720).