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upon the same principles that Academics, Cartesians, and the like sects usually do, and for a long time it looked as if you were advancing their philosophical skepticism; but in the end your conclusions are directly opposite to theirs.
Philonous. You see, Hylas, the water of yonder fountain, how it is forced upwards, in a round column, to a certain height, at which it breaks, and falls back into the basin from whence it rose; its ascent as well as descent proceeding from the same uniform law or principle of gravitation. Just so, the same principles which at first view lead to skepticism, pursued to a certair point, bring men back to common sense.
THE FABLE OF THE BEES
[The Fable of the Bees is a composite work, consisting of "The Grum bling Hive," a poem which had been separately published in 1705, the "Inquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue" (which appeared in the 1714 Volume), the "Search into the Nature of Society" (which was added in 1723), and other Essays and Remarks. The book was denounced as a nuisance by the Grand Jury of Middlesex, in 1723, and many replies to it were published, by Berkeley, among others, in Alciphron. Some of the positions of Shaftesbury which Mandeville attacks in detail will be found represented in the extracts from Characteristics; see above, pages 223-230.]
AN INQUIRY INTO THE ORIGIN OF MORAL VIRTUE
ALL untaught animals are only solicitous of pleasing themselves, and naturally follow the bent of their own inclinations, without considering the good or harm that from their being pleased will accrue to others. This is the reason that in the wild state of nature those creatures are fittest to live peaceably together in great numbers that discover the least of understanding, and have the fewest appetites to gratify; and consequently no species of animals is, without the curb of government, less capable of agreeing long together in multitudes than that of man. Yet such are his qualities, whether good or bad I shall not determine, that no creature besides himself can ever be made sociable; but being an extraordinary selfish and headstrong, as well as cunning animal, however he may be subdued by superior strength, it is impossible by force alone to make him tractable, and receive the improvements he is capable of.
The chief thing, therefore, which lawgivers and other wise men that have labored for the establishment of society, have endeavored, has been to make the people they were to govern believe that it was more beneficial for everybody to conquer than indulge his appetites, and much better to mind the public
than what seemed his private interest. As this has always been a very difficult task, so no wit or eloquence has been left untried to compass it, and the moralists and philosophers of all ages employed their utmost skill to prove the truth of so useful an assertion. But whether mankind would have ever believed it or not, it is not likely that anybody could have persuaded them to disapprove of their natural inclinations, or prefer the good of others to their own, if at the same time he had not showed them an equivalent to be enjoyed as a reward for the violence which by so doing they of necessity must commit upon themselves. Those that have undertaken to civilize mankind were not ignorant of this; but being unable to give so many real rewards as would satisfy all persons for every individual action, they were forced to contrive an imaginary one, that as a general equivalent for the trouble of self-denial should serve on all occasions, and, without costing anything either to themselves or others, be yet a most acceptable recompense to the receivers.
They thoroughly examined all the strength and frailties of our nature, and, observing that none were either so savage as not to be charmed with praise, or so despicable as patiently to bear contempt, justly concluded that flattery must be the most powerful argument that could be used to human creatures. Making use of this bewitching engine, they extolled the excellency of our nature above other animals, and, setting forth with unbounded praises the wonders of our sagacity and vastness of understanding, bestowed a thousand encomiums on the rationality of our souls, by the help of which we were capable of performing the most noble achievements. Having by this artful way of flattery insinuated themselves into the hearts of men, they began to instruct them in the notions of honor and shame; representing the one as the worst of all evils, and the other as the highest good to which mortals could aspire. Which being done, they laid before them how unbecoming it was the dignity of such sublime creatures to be solicitous about gratifying those appetites which they had in common with brutes, and at the same time unmindful of those higher qualities that gave them the preeminence over all visible things. They indeed confessed that those impulses of nature were very pressing, that it was troublesome to resist, and very difficult wholly to subdue them. But this they only used as an argument to
demonstrate how glorious the conquest of them was, on the one hand, and how scandalous, on the other, not to attempt it.
To introduce, moreover, an emulation amongst men, they divided the whole species into two classes, vastly differing from one another. The one consisted of abject, low-minded people, that, always hunting after immediate enjoyment, were wholly incapable of self-denial, and, without regard to the good of others, had no higher aim than their private advantage; such as, being enslaved by voluptuousness, yielded without resistance to every gross desire, and made no use of their rational faculties but to heighten their sensual pleasure. These vile groveling wretches, they said, were the dross of their kind, and, having only the shape of men, differed from brutes in nothing but their outward figure. But the other class was made up of lofty, high-spirited creatures, that, free from sordid selfishness, esteemed the improvements of the mind to be their fairest possessions, and, setting a true value upon themselves, took no delight but in embellishing that part in which their excellency consisted; such as, despising whatever they had in common with irrational creatures, opposed by the help of reason their most violent inclinations, and, making a continual war with themselves to promote the peace of others, aimed at no less than the public welfare and the conquest of their own passion, Fortior est qui se quam qui fortissima vincit Mania.1
These they called the true representatives of their sublime species, exceeding in worth the first class by more degrees than that itself was superior to the beasts of the field.
This was (or at least might have been) the manner after which savage man was broke; from whence it is evident that the first rudiments of morality, broached by skillful politicians to render men useful to each other as well as tractable, were chiefly contrived that the ambitious might reap the more benefit from, and govern vast numbers of, them, with the greater ease and security. This foundation of politics being once laid, it is impossible that man should long remain uncivilized; for even those who only strove to gratify their appetites, being continually crossed by others of the same stamp, could not but observe that, whenever they checked their inclinations, or but 1 "He who conquers himself is stronger than he who overcomes the strongest walls."
followed them with more circumspection, they avoided a world of troubles, and often escaped many of the calamities that generally attended the too eager pursuit after pleasure.
First, they received, as well as others, the benefit of those actions that were done for the good of the whole society, and consequently could not forbear wishing well to those of the superior class that performed them. Secondly, the more intent they were in seeking their own advantage without regard to others, the more they were hourly convinced that none stood so much in their way as those that were most like themselves.
It being the interest, then, of the very worst of them, more than any, to preach up public-spiritedness, that they might reap the fruits of the labor and self-denial of others, and at the same time indulge their own appetites with less disturbance, they agreed with the rest to call everything which, without regard to the public, man should commit to gratify any of his appetites, VICE, if in that action there could be observed the least prospect that it might either be injurious to any of the society or ever render himself less serviceable to others; and to give the name of VIRTUE to every performance by which man, contrary to the impulse of nature, should endeavor the benefit of others or the conquest of his own passions, out of a rational ambition of being good. . . .
It is visible, then, that it was not any heathen religion or other idolatrous superstition that first put man upon crossing his appetites and subduing his dearest inclinations, but the skillful management of wary politicians; and the nearer we search into human nature, the more we shall be convinced that the moral virtues are the political offspring which Flattery begot upon Pride.
There is no man, of what capacity or penetration soever, that is wholly proof against the witchcraft of flattery, if artfully performed and suited to his abilities. Children and fools will swallow personal praise, but those that are more cunning must be managed with greater circumspection, and the more general the flattery is, the less it is suspected by those it is leveled at. What you say in commendation of a whole town is received with pleasure by all the inhabitants; speak in commendation of letters in general, and every man of learning will think himself in particular obliged to you. You may safely praise the