Mandeville, Bernard

Mandeville, Bernard

(măn`dəvĭl), 1670–1733, English author, b. Dordrecht, Holland. A physician, he went to London in 1692 ostensibly to learn the language, but eventually settled there permanently, practicing medicine and writing on ethical subjects. His most important work, The Fable of the Bees (1714, enl. ed. 1723, 1728), was an expansion of his poem The Grumbling Hive (1705). Mandeville declared that the mainspring of a commercial and industrial society is the self-seeking effort of individuals. Religious or legal restraints are mere fictions invented by rulers and clergymen to put men under domination. Mandeville's attitude was attacked by his contemporaries George Berkeley and William Law. However, his work had a strong influence on the doctrine of utilitarianism of the 19th cent.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mandeville, Bernard


Born in 1670, in Dordrecht, Hol-land; died Jan. 21, 1733, in London. English author.

Of French descent, Mandeville received a medical education in Leiden. In 1705 he published the satire The Grumbling Hive, or Knaves Turn ‘d Honest. This was reprinted in 1714 and 1723 under the title The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits (Russian translation, 1924). The life of a beehive was an allegory for bourgeois society, with its competition, corruption, and social oppression. Mandeville “shows that in modern society vices are necessary and useful. This was scarcely an apology for modern society” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2, p. 146). Mandeville led the way in English social thought toward a sober and ironic critique of the bourgeois social structure.


Mandeville’s Travels. London, 1968.
The Fable of the Bees. London, 1970.
In Russian translation:
Deborin, A. Kniga dlia chteniia po istorii filosofii, vol. 1. Moscow. 1924.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, book 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945. Pages 296-301.
Kaye, F. B. “The Influence of Bernard Mandeville.” Studies in the Literature of the Augustan Age. New York, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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(15) Michael de Mandeville, Bernard's father, came from the predominantly Remonstrant city of Nijmegen and was friends with Godefridus Paludanus and Joannes Narcius, two prominent Remonstrant ministers.
Mandeville, Bernard de [1714 (1988)], The Fable of the Bees, Liberty Classics, Indianapolis.