The Fable of the Bees

The Fable of the Bees

By Bernard Mandeville, Rosalba Di Camillo

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"The Fable of The Bees" is a book by Bernard Mandeville. It consists of"The Grumbling Hive"; and an essay, "An Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue". In "The Grumbling Hive", the author describes a bee community that thrives until the bees decide to live by honesty and virtue. As they abandon their desire for personal gain, the economy of their hive collapses, and they go on to live simple, "virtuous" lives in a hollow tree. Mandeville implied that people were hypocrites for espousing rigorous ideas about virtue and vice while they failed to act according to those beliefs in their private lives. The Fable influenced ideas about the division of labour and the free market (laissez-faire), and the philosophy of utilitarianism was advanced as Mandeville's critics, in defending their views of virtue, also altered them. His work influenced Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as Francis Hutcheson, David Hume and Adam Smith.

Rosalba Di Camillo