MANDEVILLE AND BERKELEY – A MISSING DIALOGUE
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The goal of the present paper is to point out a peculiar style of debate between two well-known philosophers, Bernard Mandeville and George Berkeley, carried out in The Fable of the Bees, Alciphron, and The Letter to Dion. While philosophers often fall short of trying to understand each other in their literary exchanges, they usually try to convince the opponent. This is hardly the case in the Berkeley – Mandeville debate. Here the exchange is not confined to private letters addressing directly the views of the other philosopher. Nor does it aim to address a few experts in the field of moral and political philosophy. Instead, the debate is carried out in public and with the aim of convincing the general reader. This shapes the discussion under consideration here, which is exemplified by the struggle for different evaluation of the normative concept of luxury. For Berkeley, this is a strongly negative word anchored in tradition and ethics, but Mandeville is one of the first thinkers to argue for a positive evaluation of this concept, since it encourages trade and production, and thus prosperity of a nation.
808 – 822
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