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The Fable of the Bees and Other Writings: Or Private Vices, Publick Benefits [Abridged] [Paperback]

Bernard Mandeville , E.J. Hundert
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

26 Nov 1997
This edition includes, in addition to the most pertinent sections of The Fable's two volumes, a selection from Mandeville's An Enquiry into the Origin of Honor and selections from two of Mandeville's most important sources: Pierre Bayle and the Jansenist Pierre Nicole. Hundert's introduction places Mandeville in a number of eighteenth-century debates -- particularly that of the nature and morality of commercial modernity -- and underscores the degree to which his work stood as a central problem, not only for his immediate English contemporaries, but for such philosophers as Hume, Rousseau, and Kant. The selections are substantive enough to faithfully represent Mandeville the social theorist, and compact enough to be used in courses that can afford to spend no more than a week on his work.

Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Co, Inc; Abridged edition edition (26 Nov 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872203743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872203747
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 833,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Bernard Mandeville; Edited by E J Hundert

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First Sentence
I. Although there is nothing so opposed to charity, which relates all to God, as self-love, which relates all to itself, yet there is nothing so resembling the effects of charity as those of self-love. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the Kaye edition 24 Oct 2000
By A Customer
The original test is fantastic, and the poem it is based on is fun to read. This edition helpfully guides the first-time reader through the meaning of that poem. However, it is not a complete edition of the work. It contains selected extracts only, and is therefore not as good as the Kaye edition, which is complete. Although the introduction is good, there is no way to make up for the incomplete text and the relative lack of critical apparatus, except by buying the Kaye edition.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Political Theory from the Enlightenment 9 Feb 2006
By Amol Shelat - Published on Amazon.com
A little background

Bernard Mandeville was a practicing physician in Early Modern Europe who, towards his later years, spent much of his time composing political philosophy and satire. In fact, the two genres were almost always intertwined. When published, Mandeville's 'Fable of the Bees' created a large stir throughout English society and the work was largely criticized for the views it put forth. However, at the same time, it was this same critical popularity that turned this doctor into a best-selling author. Sweet irony, eh?

The work

I have to admit that at first sight, I thought this work to be a bit too silly and not very substantial. This edited version begins with Mandeville's 'Grumbling Hive', a poem that really cannot be considered one of the great pieces of 18th century satire. If that's what you want, I suggest that you check out Jonathan Swift's writings or Montesquieu's 'Persian Letters.'

Instead, it is his essays and 'dialogues' within the Fable of the Bees which are of greater importance and far more interesting to read. Much of the political work is devoted to grounding various human sentiments, virtues, and behaviors within human egoism and self-interest. That is, he wishes to illustrate how much of what we consider virtuous within human beings or civil societies is, on the contrary, based upon pride and self-interest. Particularly interesting is Mandeville's account of social development. He, like many early modern european theorists, has a tale of the state-of-nature and the rise of political society. In it, he argues that reason, the arts, sciences, language, and other skills are not natural human characteristics. Instead, they developed over time through man's interactions with the outside world and man's interaction with other men. Indeed, Mandeville's views seem to be very close to that of Adam Smith, on the one hand, and Rousseau, on the other. It's quite bizarre. That is, at least, my interpretation.

While Mandeville has primarily been read in English classes as a piece of satire, it is only recently that greater attention has been given to his political philosophy. Whereas a good amount of time is spent studying Hobbes, Locke, Adam Smith and Rousseau, among others, there is usually little time to get to Mandeville.

As such, I definately recommend this to anyone who wishes to learn more about the political philosophy of early modern europe and the enlightenment. However, I doubt it will be of interest to many others. If you wish to learn more about Mandeville, there are some great secondary texts. However, Hundert (the editor) provides a great introduction and overview himself in this abridged version of the Fable of the Bees.
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