Gabriella Silvestrini

Against the Utopia. Bernard Mandeville and the Public Happiness Divide in the Smallest Number

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Keywords: Bernard Mandeville, Inequality, Utopia, Public Happiness

This article explores some neglected aspects of Mandeville’s moral and social theory, and aims to demonstrate the coherence of his polemical tracts, especially An Essay on Charity and Charity-Schools, with his political and philosophical works. Despite his «universalistic» analysis of human nature and the passions, Mandeville is a staunch defender of a hierarchical social order based on the harsh subjection of the «Multitude of laborious Poor». The main contribution of this article consists in highlighting the anti-utopian stance that characterizes Mandeville’s thought at least since the The Grumbling Hive published in 1705 to his later writings. The «utopian» context will allow us to better understand Mandeville’s views on salaries, the poor and the death penalty.

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