THE EUROPEAN ENLIGHTENMENT
Excerpts from the entry in the Encyclopedie (1751-1772)
by Denis DIDEROT (1713-1784)
"Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville" (1772)
by Denis DIDEROT (1713-1784)
"The Slave Trade"
Excerpts from the entry in the Encyclopedie (1751-1772)
by Louis de JAUCOURT (1704-1799)
IMMANUEL KANT (1724-1804)
"An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?"
The Wealth of Nations
An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT
Excerpts from the entry in the Encyclopedie (1751-1772)
by Denis DIDEROT (1713-1784)
ENCYCLOPEDIA, noun. (Philosophy). This word means the interrelation of all knowledge; it is made up of the Greek prefix en, in, and the nouns kyklos, circle, and paideia, instruction, science, knowledge. In truth, the aim of an encyclopedia is to collect all the knowledge scattered over the face of the earth, to present its general outlines and structure to the men with whom we live, and to transmit this to those who will come after us, so that the work of past centuries may be useful to the following centuries, that our children, by becoming more educated, may at the same time become more virtuous and happier, and that we may not die without having deserved well of the human race. (...)
I have said that it could only belong to a philosophical age to attempt an encyclopedia; and I have said this because such a work constantly demands more intellectual daring than is commonly found' in ages of pusillanimous taste. All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone's feelings. (. ..) We must ride roughshod over all these ancient puerilities, overturn the barriers that reason never erected, give back to the arts and sciences the liberty that is so precious to them. (...) We have for quite some time needed a reasoning age when men would no longer seek the rules in classical authors but in nature, when men could be conscious of what is false and what is true about so many arbitrary treatises on aesthetics: and I take the term treatise on aesthetics in its most general meaning, that of a system of given rules to which it is claimed that one must conform in any genre whatsoever in order to succeed. (...)
It would be desirable for the government to authorize people to go into the factories and shops, to see the craftsmen at their work, to question them, to draw the tools, the machines, and even the premises.
There are special circumstances when craftsmen are so secretive about their techniques that the shortest way of learning about them would be to apprentice oneself to a master or to have some trustworthy person do this. There would be a few secrets that one would fail to bring to light by this method, and all these secrets would have to be divulged without any exception.
I know that this feeling is not shared by everyone. These are narrow minds, deformed souls, who are indifferent to the fate of the human race and who are so enclosed in their little group that they see nothing beyond its special interests. These men insist on being called good citizens, and I consent to this, provided that they permit me to call them bad men. To listen to them talk, one would say that a successful encyclopedia, that a general history of the mechanical arts, should only take the form of an enormous manuscript that would be carefully locked up in the king's library, inaccessible to all other eyes but his, an official document of the state, not meant to be consulted by the people. What is the good of divulging the knowledge a nation possesses its private transactions, its inventions, its industrial processes, its resources, its trade secrets, its enlightenment, its arts, and all its wisdom? Are not these the things to which it owe a part of its superiority over the rival nations that surround it? This is what they say; and this is what they might add: would it not be desirable if, instead of enlightening the foreigner, we could spread darkles over him or even plunge all the rest of the world into barbarism so that we could dominate more securely over everyone? These people do not realize that they occupy only a single point on our globe and that they will endure only a moment in its existence. To this point and to this moment they would sacrifice the happiness of future ages and that of the entire human race.
They know as well as anyone that the average duration of empires is not more than two thousand years and that in less time, perhaps, the name Frenchman, a name that will endure forever in history, will be sought after in vain over the surface of the earth. These considerations do not broaden their point of view; for it seems that the word humanity is for them a word without meaning. All the same, they should be consistent! For they also fulminate against the impenetrability of the Egyptian sanctuaries; they deplore the loss of knowledge of the ancients; they accuse the writers of the past for having been silent or negligent in writing so badly on an infinite number of important subjects; and these illogical critics do not see that they demand of the writers of earlier ages something they call a crime when it is committed by a contemporary, that they are blaming others for having done what they think it honorable to do. (...)
"Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville" (1772)
by Denis DIDEROT (1713-1784)
In the sharing of Bougainville's crew among the Tahitians, the almoner was allotted to Orou; they were about the same age, thirty-five to thirty-six. Orou had then only his wife and three daughters, called Asto, Palli, and Thia. They undressed the almoner, bathed his face, hands, and feet, and served him a wholesome and frugal meal. When he was about to go to bed, Orou, who had been absent with his family, reappeared, and presenting to him his wife and three daughters, all naked, said: "You have eaten, you are young and in good health; if you sleep alone you will sleep badly, for man needs a companion beside him at night. There is my wife, there are my daughters; choose the one who pleases you best. But if you wish to oblige me you will give preference to the youngest of my daughters, who has not yet had any children." The mother added: "Alas! But it's no good complaining about it; poor Thia! It is not her fault."
The almoner answered that his religion, his office, good morals and decency would not allow him to accept these offers.
Orou replied: "I do not know what this thing is that you call 'religion'; but I can only think ill of it, since it prevents you from tasting an innocent pleasure to which nature, the sovereign mistress, invites us all; prevents you from giving existence to one of your own kind, from doing a service which a father, mother and children all ask of you, from doing something for a host who has received you well, and from enriching a nation, by giving it one more citizen. I do not know what this thing is which you call your 'office', but your first duty is to be a man and to be grateful. I do not suggest that you should introduce into your country the ways of Orou, but Orou, your host and friend, begs you to lend yourself to the ways of Tahiti. Whether the ways of Tahiti are better or worse than yours is an easy question to decide. Has the land of your birth more people than it can feed? If so, your ways are neither worse nor better than ours. But can it feed more than it has? Our ways are better than yours. As to the sense of decency which you offer as objection, I understand you; I agree that I was wrong, and I ask your pardon. I do not want you to injure your health; if you are tired, you must have rest; but I hope that you will not continue to sadden us. See the care you have made appear on all these faces; they fear lest you should have found blemishes on them which merit your disdain. But when it is only the pleasure of doing honor to one of my daughters, amidst her companions and sisters, and of doing a good action, won't that suffice you? Be generous!"
The Almoner: It's not that: they are all equally beautiful; but my religion! My office!
Orou: They are mine and I offer them to you; they are their own and they give themselves to you. Whatever may be the purity of conscience which the thing "religion" and "office" prescribe, you can accept them without scruple. I am not abusing my authority at all; be sure that I know and respect the rights of the individual.
Here the truthful almoner agrees that Providence had never exposed him to such violent temptation. He was young, he became agitated and tormented; he turned his eyes away from the lovely suppliants, and then regarded them again; he raised his hands and eyes to the sky. Thia, the youngest, clasped his knees and said: "Stranger, do not distress my father and mother, do not afflict me. Honor me in the hut, among my own people; raise me to the rank of my sisters, who mock me. Asto, the eldest, already has three children; the second, Palli, has two; but Thia has none at all. Stranger, honest stranger, do not repulse me; make me a mother, make me a child that I can one day lead by the hand, by my side, here in Tahiti; who may be seen held at my breast in nine months' time; one of whom I shall be so proud and who will be part of my dowry when I go from my parents' hut to another's. I shall perhaps be more lucky with you than with our young Tahitians. If you will grant me this favor I shall never forget you; I shall bless you all my life. I shall write your name on my arm and on your son's; we shall pronounce it always with joy. And when you leave these shores, my good wishes will go with you on the seas till you reach your own land."
The candid almoner said that she clasped his knees, and gazed into his eyes so expressively and so touchingly; that she wept; that her father, mother and sisters withdrew; that he remained alone with her, and that, still saying "my religion, my office", he found himself the next morning lying beside the young girl, who overwhelmed him with caresses, and who invited her parents and sisters, when they came to their bed in the morning, to join their gratitude to hers. Asto and Palli, who had withdrawn, returned bringing food, fruits and drink. They kissed their sister and made vows over her. They all ate together.
Then Orou, left alone with the almoner, said to him: "I see that my daughter is well satisfied with you and I thank you. But would you teach me what is meant by this word 'religion' which you have repeated so many times and so sorrowfully?"
The almoner, after having mused a moment, answered: "Who made your hut and the things which furnish it?"
OROU: I did.
THE ALMONER: Well then, we believe that this world and all that it contains is the work of a maker.
OROU: Has he feet, hands, and a head then?
THE ALMONER: No.
OROU: Where is his dwelling place?
THE ALMONER: Everywhere.
OROU: Here too?
THE ALMONER: Here.
OROU: We have never seen him.
THE ALMONER: One doesn't see him.
OROU: That's an indifferent father then! He must be old, for he will '!-t least be as old as his work.
THE ALMONER: He does not age. He spoke to our ancestors, gave them laws, prescribed the manner in which he wished to be honored; he ordered a certain behavior as being good, and he forbade them certain other actions as being wicked.
OROU: I follow you; and one of the actions he forbade them, as wicked, was to lie with a woman or a girl? Why, then, did he make two sexes?
ALMONER: That they might unite; but with certain requisite conditions, after certain preliminary ceremonies in consequence of which the man belongs to the woman and only to her; and the woman belongs to the man, and only to him.
OROU: For their whole lives?
THE ALMONER: For the whole of their lives.
OROU: So that if it happened that a woman should lie with a man other than her husband, or a husband with another woman . . . but that couldn't happen. Since the maker is there and this displeases him, he will know how to prevent them doing it.
THE ALMONER: No; he lets them do it, and they sin against the law of God (for it is thus we call the great maker), against the law of the country; and they commit a Crime.
OROU: I should be sorry to offend you by what I say, but if you would permit me, I would give you my opinion.
THE ALMONER: Speak.
OROU: I find these singular precepts opposed to nature and contrary to reason, made to
multiply crimes and to plague at every moment this old maker, who has made everything, without help of hands, or head, or tools, who is everywhere and is not seen anywhere, who exists today and tomorrow and yet is not a day older, who commands and is not obeyed, who can prevent and yet does not do so. Contrary to nature because these precepts suppose that a free, thinking and sentient being can be the property of a being like himself. On what is this law founded? Don't you see that in your country they have confused the thing which has neither consciousness nor thought, nor desire, nor will; which one picks up, puts down, keeps or exchanges, without injury to it, or without its complaining, have confused this with the thing which cannot be exchanged or acquired, which has liberty, will, desire, which can give or refuse itself for a moment or forever, which laments and suffers, and which cannot become an article of commerce, without its character being forgotten and violence done to its nature, contrary to the general law of existence? In fact, nothing could appear to you more senseless than a precept which refuses to admit that change which is a part of us, which commands a constancy which cannot be found there, and which violates the liberty of the male and female by chaining them forever to each other; more senseless than a fidelity which limits the most capricious of enjoyments to one individual; than an oath of the immutability of two beings made of flesh; and all that in the face of a sky which never for a moment remains the same, in caverns which threaten destruction, below a rock which falls to powder, at the foot of a tree which cracks, on a stone which rocks? Believe me, you have made the condition of man worse than animals. I do not know what your great maker may be; but I rejoice that he has never spoken to our forefathers, and I wish that he may never speak to our children; for he might tell them the same foolishness, and they commit the folly of believing it. Yesterday, at supper, you mentioned "magistrates" and "priests", whose authority regulates your conduct; but, tell me, are they the masters of good and evil? Can they make what is just to be unjust, and unjust, just? Does it rest with them to attribute good to harmful actions, and evil to innocent or useful actions? You could not think it, for, at that rate, there would be neither true nor false, good nor bad, beautiful nor ugly; or at any rate only what pleased your great maker, your magistrates, and your priests to pronounce so. And from one moment to another you would be obliged to change your ideas and your conduct. One day someone would tell you, on behalf of one of your three masters, to kill, and you would be obliged by conscience to kill;
another day, "steal", and you would have to steal; or "do not eat this fruit", and you would not dare to eat it; "I forbid you this vegetable or animal", and you would take care not to touch them. There is no good thing that could not be forbidden you, and no wickedness that you could not be ordered to do. And what would you be reduced to, if your three masters, disagreeing among themselves, should at once permit, enjoin, and forbid you the same thing, as I believe must often happen. Then, to please the priest you must become embroiled with the magistrate; to satisfy the magistrate you must displease the great maker; and to make yourself agreeable to the great maker you must renounce nature. And do you know what will happen then? You will neglect all of them, and you will be neither man, nor citizen, nor pious; and you will be nothing; you will be out of favor with all the kinds of authorities, at odds even with yourself, tormented by your heart, persecuted by your enraged masters; and wretched as I saw you yesterday evening when I offered you my wife and daughters to you, and you cried out, "But my religion, my office!"
Do you want to know what is good and what is bad in all times and in all places? Hold fast to the nature of things and of actions; to your relations with your fellows; to the influence of your conduct on your individual usefulness and the general good. You are mad if you believe that there is anything, high or low in the universe, which can add to or subtract from the laws of nature. Her eternal will is that good should be preferred to evil, and the general good to the individual good. You may ordain the opposite but you will not be obeyed. You will multiply the number of malefactors and the wretched by fear, punishment, and remorse. You will deprave consciences; you will corrupt minds. They will not know what to do or what to avoid. Disturbed in their state of innocence, at ease with crime, they will have lost their guiding star. Answer me sincerely; in spite of the express orders of your three lawgivers, does a young man, in your country, never lie with a young girl without their permission?
THE ALMONER: I should deceive you if I asserted it.
OROU: Does a woman who has sworn to belong only to her husband never give herself to another man?
THE ALMONER: Nothing is more common.
OROU: Your lawgivers either punish or do not punish; if they punish they are ferocious beasts who fight against nature; if they do not punish, they are imbeciles who have exposed their authority to contempt by an empty prohibition.
THE ALMONER: The culprits who escape the severity of the law are punished by popular condemnation.
OROU: That is to say, justice is exercised through the lack of common sense of the whole nation, and the foolishness of opinion does duty for laws.
THE ALMONER: A girl who has been dishonored will not find a husband.
OROU: Dishonored! Why?
THE ALMONER: An unfaithful wife is more or less despised.
OROU: Despised! But why?
THE ALMONER: The young man is called a cowardly seducer.
OROU: A coward, a seducer! But why?
THE ALMONER: The father and mother and child are desolated. The unfaithful husband is a libertine; the betrayed husband shares his wife's shame.
OROD: What a monstrous tissue of extravagances you've just revealed to me! And yet you don't say everything; for as soon as one allows oneself to dispose at pleasure of the ideas of justice and ownership, to take away or to give an arbitrary
character to things, to attribute or deny good or evil to certain actions, capriciously, then one can be censorious, vindictive, suspicious, tyrannical, envious, jealous, deceitful. There is spying, quarreling, cheating, and lying; daughters deceive their parents, wives their husbands. Girls, yes, I don't doubt it, will strangle their infants, suspicious fathers will hate and neglect theirs, mothers will leave them and abandon them to their fates. And crime and debauchery will show themselves in all their forms. I know all that as if I had lived among you. It is so, because it must be so; and your society, of which your leader boasts because of its good regulations, will only be a swarm of hypocrites who secretly trample all laws under foot; or of unfortunates who are themselves the instruments of their own suffering in submitting; or of imbeciles in whom prejudices have quite stifled the voice of nature; or of abnormal monsters in whom nature does not protest her rights.
THE ALMONER: So it would seem. But don't you marry then?
OROU: Yes, we marry.
THE ALMONER: But what does it consist in?
OROU: A mutual consent to live in the same hut and to lie in the same bed for as long as we find it good to do so.
THE ALMONER: And when you find it no longer good?
OROU: We separate.
THE ALMONER: What becomes of the children?
OROU: Oh, stranger! Your last question finally reveals to me the profound misery of your country. You must understand, my friend, that here the birth of a child is always a good fortune, and its death a subject for regrets and tears. A child is precious because he ought to become a man; therefore we have a care for it, quite other than for our animals and plants. A child born causes both domestic and public joy. It is an increase of fortune for the hut and of strength for the nation. It means more hands and arms in Tahiti. We see in him a farmer, fisher, hunter, soldier, husband and father. When she returns from her husband's cabin to that of her parents, a woman takes with her the children which she had taken as dowry; those born during their companionship are shared; and as nearly as can be, males and females are divided, so that each one retains an equal number of boys and girls.
"The Slave Trade"
Entry in the Encyclopedie (1751-1772)
by Louis de JAUCOURT (1704-1799)
The slave trade is the purchase of blacks by Europeans from the coasts of Africa for use as slaves in their colonies, The buying of blacks in order to reduce them to slavery is a form of commerce which violates religion, ethics, natural laws and all the rights of human nature,
A modern-thinking Englishman observed that the blacks, so enlightened and full of humanity, did not become slaves by right of war, nor do they give themselves up voluntarily to servitude, nor are their children necessarily born slaves. It is common knowledge that they are bought from their princes, who claim to have the right to sell them, and that the traders transport them in the same way that they would any other type of goods, either to their colonies or to America where they are put up for sale.
If such a business can be justified on moral grounds, there is no crime, no matter how atrocious, that cannot be legitimized. Kings, princes and magistrates do not own their subjects, and therefore do not have the right to take away their liberty and sell them as slaves.
On the other hand, no man has the right either to purchase them, or to become their master. Man and his liberty are not for sale; they cannot be sold, bought or paid for at any price. For that matter, a man whose slave runs away should only be angry at himself since he purchased illicit merchandise with money, a purchase forbidden by all the laws of humanity and of equity.
There is not a single one of these unfortunate people, whom we claim only to be slaves, who does not have the right to be freed. And this is because he never lost his liberty in the first place; he could not have lost it, and neither his prince, nor his father, nor anyone else in the world had the power to take it away from him. As a result, the sale that was made is null and void. The slave did not lose, nor can he ever lose, his natural rights. He carries them with him everywhere and he can demand that others allow him to enjoy them. It is therefore blatantly inhuman that the judges in the free country to which a slave is brought do not immediately react by declaring him free since he is a fellow human being with a soul just like theirs. (...)'
One might claim that the colonies would soon be ruined if the enslavement of blacks were abolished. If that is true, should we conclude that humanity must be horribly debased in order for us to grow rich or to satisfy our desires for luxury? Highway robbers' bags would indeed be empty if thefts were abolished, but do men have the right to get richer by criminal and cruel means? What right does a brigand have to rob passersby? To whom is permission granted to become rich at the expense of his fellow human being? Can it be legitimate to take away the most sacred rights of the human race simply to satisfy one's greed, one's vanity or one's own whims? The answer is no. Let the European colonies be destroyed rather than making so many people miserable!
But I believe that the claim that the abolition of slavery would bring about the economic failure of the colonies is false. Commerce would suffer for a while; I would welcome that. This is what happens in any new arrangement, for in this case, there would be no ready means of going along with another system. Many other advantages would nonetheless come from such abolition.
It is the slave trade, America's custom of servitude, which prevented the country from being populated as quickly as it could have been without slavery. Free the slaves and in only a few generations that vast and fertile country will have countless inhabitants. Arts and sciences will flourish, and instead of being populated mostly by savages and ferocious beasts, it will be full of industrious men. Liberty and industry are the real sources of abundance. So long as a population maintains this industry and liberty, it has nothing to fear. Industry, fed by human need, is clever and inventive; it finds a thousand ways to generate wealth, and if one of the paths to opulence gets blocked, a hundred new ones immediately open up. Sensible and generous souls will surely applaud these arguments in favor of humanity, but the greed and cupidity which dominate the earth will never want to listen to them.
Immanuel KANT (1724-1804)
"An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" (1784)
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! 1 "Have courage to use your own understanding!" - that is the motto of enlightenment.
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion Of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (naturaliter maiorennes,)2 nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the go-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts.
Thus, it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immaturity that has all but become his nature. He has even become fond of this state and for the time being is actually incapable of using his own understanding, for no one has ever allowed him to attempt it. Rules and formulas, those mechanical aids to the rational use, or rather misuse, of his natural gifts, are the shackles of a permanent immaturity. Whoever threw them off would still make only an uncertain leap over the smallest ditch, since he is unaccustomed to this kind of free movement. Consequently, only a few have succeeded, by cultivating their own minds, in freeing themselves from immaturity and pursuing a secure course.
But that the public should enlighten itself is more likely; indeed, if it is only allowed freedom, enlightenment is almost inevitable, For even among the entrenched guardians of the great masses a few will always think for themselves, a few who, after having themselves thrown off the, yoke of immaturity, will spread the spirit of a rational appreciation for both their own worth and for each person's calling to think for himself. But it should be particularly noted that if a public that was first placed in this yoke by the guardians is suitably aroused by some of those
who are altogether incapable of enlightenment, it may force the guardians themselves to remain under the yoke - so pernicious is it to instill prejudices, for they finally take revenge upon their originators, or on their descendants. Thus a public can only attain enlightenment slowly. Perhaps a revolution can overthrow autocratic despotism and profiteering or power-grabbing oppression, but it can never truly reform a manner of thinking; instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones they replace, will serve as a leash for the great unthinking mass.
Nothing is required for this enlightenment, however, except freedom; and the freedom in question is the least harmful of all, namely, the freedom to use reason publicly in all matters. But on all sides I hear: "Do not argue!" The officer says, "Do not argue, drill!" The tax man says, "Do not argue, pay!" The pastor says, "Do not argue, believe!" (Only one ruler in the world 3 says, "Argue as much as you want and about what you want, but obey!') In this we have [examples of] pervasive restrictions on freedom. But which restriction hinders enlightenment and which does not, but instead actually advances it? I reply: The public use of one's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among mankind; the private use of reason may, however, often be very narrowly restricted, without otherwise hindering the progress of enlightenment. By the public use of one's own reason I understand the use that anyone as a scholar makes of reason before the entire literate world. I call the private use of reason that which a person may make in a civic post or office that has been entrusted to him. Now in many affairs conducted in the interests of a community, a certain mechanism is required by means of which some of its members must conduct themselves in an entirely passive manner so that through an artificial unanimity the government may guide them toward public ends, or at least prevent them from destroying such ends. Here one certainly must not argue, instead one must obey. However, insofar as this part of the machine also regards himself as a member of the community as a whole, or even of the world community, and as a consequence addresses the public in the role of a scholar, in the proper sense of that term, he can most certainly argue, without thereby harming the affairs for which as a passive member he is partly responsible. Thus it would be disastrous if an officer on duty who was given a command by his superior were to question the appropriateness or utility of the order. He must obey. But as a scholar he cannot be justly constrained from making comments about errors in military service, or from placing them before the public for its judgment. The citizen cannot refuse to pay the taxes imposed on him; indeed, impertinent criticism of such levies, when they should be paid by him, can be punished as a scandal (since it can lead to widespread insubordination). But the same person does not act contrary to civic duty when, as a scholar, he publicly expresses his thoughts regarding the impropriety or even injustice of such taxes. Likewise a pastor is bound to instruct his catechumens and congregation in accordance with the symbol of the church he serves, for he was appointed on that condition. But as a scholar he has complete freedom, indeed even the calling, to impart to the public all of his carefully considered and well-intentioned thoughts concerning mistaken aspects of that symbol, as well as his suggestions for the better arrangement of religious and church matters. Nothing in this can weigh on his conscience. What he teaches in consequence of his office as a servant of the church he sets out as something with regard to which he has no discretion to teach in accord with his own lights; rather, he offers it under the direction and in the name of another. He will say, "Our church teaches this or that and these are the demonstrations it uses." He thereby extracts for his congregation all practical uses from precepts to which he would not himself subscribe with complete conviction, but whose presentation he can nonetheless undertake, since it is not entirely impossible that truth lies hidden in them, and, in any case, nothing contrary to the very nature of religion is to be found in them. If he believed he could find anything of the latter sort in them, he could not in good conscience serve in his position; he would have to resign. Thus an appointed
teacher's use of his reason for the sake of his congregation is merely private, because, however large the congregation is, this use is always only domestic; in this regard, as a priest, he is not free and cannot be such because he is acting under instructions from someone else. By contrast, the cleric - as a scholar who speaks through his writings to the public as such, i.e., the world - enjoys in this public use of reason an unrestricted freedom to use his own rational capacities and to speak his own mind. For that the (spiritual) guardians of a people should themselves be immature is an absurdity that would insure the perpetuation of absurdities.
But would a society of pastors, perhaps a church assembly or venerable presbytery (as those among the Dutch call themselves), not be justified in binding itself by oath to a certain
unalterable symbol in order to secure a constant guardianship over each of its members and through them over the people, and this for all time: I say that this is wholly impossible. Such a contract, whose intention is to preclude forever all further enlightenment of the human race, is absolutely null and void, even if it should be ratified by the supreme power, by parliaments, and by the most solemn peace treaties. One age cannot bind itself, and thus conspire, to place a succeeding one in a condition whereby it would be impossible for the later age to expand its knowledge (particularly where it is so very important), to rid itself of errors, and generally to increase its enlightenment. That would be a crime against human nature, whose essential destiny lies precisely in such progress; subsequent generations are thus completely justified in dismissing such agreements as unauthorized and criminal. The criterion of everything that can be agreed upon as a law by a people lies in this question: Can a people impose such a law on itself? Now it might be possible, in anticipation of a better state of affairs, to introduce a provisional order for a specific, short time, all the while giving all citizens, especially clergy, in their role as scholars, the freedom to comment publicly, i.e., in writing, on the present institution's shortcomings. The provisional order might last until insight into the nature of these matters had become so widespread and obvious that the combined (if not unanimous) voices of the populace could propose to the crown that it take under its protection those congregations that, in accord with their newly gained insight, had organized themselves under altered religious institutions, but without interfering with those wishing to allow matters to remain as before. However, it is absolutely forbidden that they unite into a religious organization that nobody may for the duration of a man's lifetime publicly question, for so doing would deny, render fruitless, and make detrimental to succeeding generations an era in man's progress toward improvement. A man may put off enlightenment with regard to what he ought to know, though only for a short time and for his own person; but to renounce it for himself, or, even more, for subsequent generations, is to violate and trample man's divine rights underfoot. And what a people may not decree for itself may still less be imposed on it by a monarch, for his lawgiving authority rests on his unification of the people's collective will in his own. If he only sees to it that all genuine or purported improvement is consonant with civil order, he can allow his subjects to do what they find necessary to their spiritual well-being, which is not his affair. However, he must prevent anyone from forcibly interfering with another's working as best he can to determine and promote his well-being. It detracts from his own majesty when he interferes in these matters, since the writings in which his subjects attempt to clarify their insights lend value to his conceptions of governance. This holds whether he acts from his own highest insight - whereby he calls upon himself the reproach,
"Caesar non est supra grammaticos.”4 - as well as, indeed even more, when he despoils his highest authority by supporting the spiritual despotism of some tyrants in his state over his other subjects.
If it is now asked, "Do we presently live in an enlightened age?" the answer is, "No, but we do live in an age of enlightenment." As matters now stand, a great deal is still lacking in order for men as a whole to be, or even to put themselves into a position to be able without external guidance to apply understanding confidently to religious issues. But we do have clear indications that the way is now being opened for men to proceed freely in this direction and that the obstacles to general enlightenment - to their release from their self-imposed immaturity - are gradually diminishing. In this regard, this age is the age of enlightenment, the century of Frederick.5
A prince who does not find it beneath him to say that he takes it to be his duty to prescribe nothing, but rather to allow men complete freedom in religious matters - who thereby renounces the arrogant title of tolerance - is himself enlightened and deserves to be praised by a grateful present and by posterity as the first, at least where the government is concerned, to release the human race from immaturity and to leave everyone free to use his own reason in all matters of conscience. Under his rule, venerable pastors, in their role as scholars and without prejudice to their official duties, may freely and openly set out for the world's scrutiny their judgments and views, even where these occasionally differ from the accepted symbol. Still greater freedom is afforded to those who are not restricted by an official post. This spirit of freedom is expanding even where it must struggle against the external obstacles of governments that misunderstand their own function. Such governments are illuminated by the example that the existence of freedom need not give cause for the least concern regarding public order and harmony in the commonwealth. If only they refrain from inventing artifices to keep themselves in it, men will gradually raise themselves from barbarism.
I have focused on religious matters in setting out my main point concerning enlightenment, Le., man's emergence from self-imposed immaturity, first because our rulers have no interest in assuming the role of their subjects' guardians with respect to the arts and sciences, and secondly because that form of immaturity is both the most pernicious and disgraceful of all. But the manner of thinking of a head of state who favors religious enlightenment goes even further, for he realizes that there is no danger to his legislation in allowing his subjects to use reason publicly and to set before the world their thoughts concerning better formulations of his laws, even if this involves frank criticism of legislation currently in effect. We have before us a shining example, with respect to which no monarch surpasses the one whom we honor.
But only a ruler who is himself enlightened and has no dread of shadows, yet who likewise has ,a well-disciplined, numerous army to guarantee public peace, can say what no republic may dare, namely: "Argue as much as you want and about what you want, but obey!" Here as elsewhere, when things are considered in broad perspective, a strange, unexpected pattern in human affairs reveals itself, one in which almost everything is paradoxical. A greater degree of civil freedom seems advantageous to a people's spiritual freedom; yet the former established impassable boundaries for the latter; conversely, a lesser degree of civil freedom provides enough room for all fully to expand their abilities. Thus, once nature has removed the hard shell from this kernel for which she has most fondly cared, namely, the inclination to and vocation for free thinking, the kernel gradually reacts on a people's mentality (whereby they become increasingly able to act freely), and it finally even influences the principles of government, which finds that it can profit by treating men, who are now more than machines, in accord with their dignity.
Konigsberg in Prussia, 30 September 1784
An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations
<1. DIVISION OF LABOUR>
Introduction & Plan of the Work
1. THE annual labor of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all
the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually- consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labor or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations.
2. According therefore, as this produce, or what is purchased with it, bears a greater
or smaller proportion to the number of those who are to consume it, the nation will be better or worse supplied with all the necessaries and conveniences for which it has occasion.
BOOK 1. Of the Causes of Improvement in the productive Powers of Labor, and of the Order according to which it’s Produce is naturally distributed among the different Ranks of the People
Chapter 1. Of the Division of Labor
1. THE greatest improvement in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labor. (... )
3. To take an example (...) from (...) the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not
educated to this business (which the division of labor has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (.. .), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into "a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on, is a peculiar business, (...) and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them. I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed (...). But (...) they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in
a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, (...) might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, (...) they certainly could not each of them have made twenty (...).
4. In every other art and manufacture, the effects of the division of labor are similar
to what they are in this very trifling one ('00)' The division of labor, (...) so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labor. The separation of different trades and employments from one to another seems to have taken place, in consequence of this advantage. This separation too is generally carried furthest in those countries which enjoy the highest degree of industry and improvement; what is the work of one man, in a rude state of society, being generally that of several in an improved one. In every improved society, the farmer is generally nothing but a farmer; the manufacturer, nothing but a manufacturer. (...) The most opulent nations, indeed, generally excel all their neighbors in agriculture as well as in manufactures; but they are commonly more distinguished by their superiority in the latter than in the former. (...)
10. It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labor, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people. Every workman has a great quantity of his own work to dispose of beyond what he himself has occasion for; and every other workman being exactly in the same situation, he is enabled to exchange a great quantity of his own goods for a great quantity, or, what comes to the same thing, for the price of a great quantity of theirs (...) a general plenty diffuses itself through all the different ranks of the society. (...)
Chapter II. Of the Principle which gives occasion to the Division of Labor
1. This division of labor, from which so many advantages are derived, is not originally the effect of any human wisdom, which foresees and intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion. It is the necessary, though very slow and gradual consequence of a certain propensity in human nature which has in view no such extensive utility; the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another. (...)
Chapter III. That the Division of Labor is limited by the Extent of the Market
1. As it is the power of exchanging that gives occasion to the division of labor, so the extent of this division must always be limited by the extent of that power, or, in other words, by the extent of the market. When the market is very small, no person can have any
encouragement to dedicate himself entirely to one employment; for want of the power to exchange all that surplus part of the produce of his own labor, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other men's labor as he has occasion for. (...)
Chapter V. Of the Real and Nominal Price of Commodities, or of their Price in Labor, and their Price in Money
1. Every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of human life. (...) The far greater part of them he must derive from the labor of other people, and he must be rich or poor according to the quantity of that labor which he can command, or which he can afford to purchase. The value of any commodity, therefore, to the person who possesses it, and who means not to use or consume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labor which it enables him to purchase or command. Labor, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities. (...)
8. But though equal quantities of labor are always of equal value to the laborer, yet to the person who employs him they appear sometimes to be of greater and sometimes of smaller value. He purchases them sometimes with a greater and sometimes with a smaller quantity of goods, and to him the price of labor seems to vary like that of all other things. (...)
Chapter VI. Of the component Parts of the Price of Commodities
5. As soon as stock6
has accumulated in the hands of particular persons, some of them will naturally employ it in setting to work industrious people, whom they will supply with materials and subsistence, in order to make a profit by the sale of their work, or by what their labor adds to the value of the materials. In exchanging the complete manufacture either for money, for labor, or for other goods, over and above what may be sufficient to pay the price of the materials, and the wages of the workmen, something must be given for the profits of the undertaker of the work who hazards his stock in this adventure. The value which the workmen add to the materials, therefore, resolves itself in this case into two
parts, of which the one pays their wages, the other the profits of their employer upon the whole stock of materials and wages which he advanced. He could have no interest to employ them, unless he expected from the sale of their work something more than what was sufficient to replace his stock to him; and he could have no interest to employ a great stock rather than a small one, unless his profits were to bear some proportion to the extent of his stock. (...)
Chapter VIII. Of the Wages of Labor
11. What are the common wages of labor depends every where upon the contract usually made between those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible. (...)
14. But though in disputes with their workmen, masters must generally have the advantage; there is however a certain rate below which it seems impossible to reduce, for any considerable time, the ordinary wages even of the lowest species of labor.
15. A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more
; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation. Mr. CANTILLON seems, upon this account, to suppose that the lowest species of common laborers must everywhere earn at least double their own maintenance, in order that one with another they may be enabled to bring up two children; the labor of the wife, on account of her necessary attendance on the children, being supposed no more than sufficient to provide for herself. (...)
16. There are certain circumstances, however, which sometimes give the laborers an advantage, and enable them to raise their wages considerably above this rate; evidently the lowest which is consistent with common humanity.
<2. FREE TRADE & LAISSEZ-FAIRE>
BOOK IV. Of Systems of political Economy
1. Political economy, considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator, proposes two distinct objects; first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign. (...)
Chapter I. Of the Principle of the commercial, or mercantile System
1. That wealth consists in money, or in gold and silver, is a popular notion which naturally arises from the double function of money, as the instrument of commerce, and as the measure of value. In consequence of its being the instrument of commerce, when we
have money we can more readily obtain whatever else we have occasion for than by means of any other commodity. The great affair, we always find, is to get money. (...)
2. A rich country, in the same manner as a rich man, is supposed to be a country abounding in money; and to heap up gold and silver in any country is supposed to be the readiest way to enrich it. (...)
5. In consequence of these popular notions, all the different nations of Europe have studied, though to little purpose, every possible means of accumulating gold and silver in their respective countries. (...)
10. (...) That foreign trade enriched the country, experience demonstrated to the nobles and country gentlemen, as well as to the merchants; but how, or in what manner, none of them well knew. (...) The attention of government was turned away from guarding against the exportation of gold and silver, to watch over the balance of trade, as the only cause which could occasion any augmentation or diminution of those metals. From one fruitless care it was turned away to another care much more intricate, much more embarrassing, and just equally fruitless. The title of Mun's book, England's Treasure in Foreign Trade7 became a fundamental maxim in the political economy, not of England only, but of all other commercial countries. The inland or home trade, the most important of all, (...) was considered as subsidiary only to foreign trade. It neither brought money into the country, it was said, nor carried any out of it. The country, therefore, could never become either richer or poorer by means of it (...).
11. A country that has no mines of its own must undoubtedly draw its gold and silver from foreign countries, in the same manner as one that has no vineyards of its own must draw its wines. It does not seem necessary, however, that the attention of government should be more turned towards the one than towards the other object. A country that has wherewithal to buy wine, will always get the wine which it has occasion for; and a country that has wherewithal to buy gold and silver will never be in want of those metals. (...) We trust with perfect security that the freedom of trade, without any attention of government, will always supply us with the wine which we have occasion for: and we may trust with equal security that it will always supply us with all the gold and silver which we can afford to purchase or to employ, either in circulating our commodities, or in other uses.
12. The quantity of every commodity which human industry can either purchase or produce, naturally regulates itself in every country according to the effectual demand, or according to the demand of those who are willing to pay the whole rent, labor and profits which must be' paid in order to prepare and bring it to market.(... )
31. The importation of gold and silver is not the principal; much less the sole benefit which a nation derives from its foreign trade. Between whatever places foreign trade is
carried on, they all of them derive two distinct benefits from it. It carries out that surplus part of the produce of their land and labor for which there is no demand among them, and brings back in return for it something else for which there is a demand. (...) By means of it, the narrowness of the home market does not hinder the division of labor in any particular branch of art or manufacture from being carried to the highest perfection. By opening a more extensive market for whatever part of the produce of their labor may exceed the home consumption, it encourages them to improve its productive powers, and to augment its annual produce to the utmost, and thereby to increase the real revenue and wealth of the society. These great and important services foreign trade is continually occupied in performing, to all the different countries between which it is carried on.
Chapter II. Of Restraints upon the Importation from foreign Countries of such Goods as can be produced at Home
11. To give the monopoly of the home-market to the produce of domestic industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, and must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation. If the produce of domestic can be brought there as cheap as that of foreign industry, the regulation is evidently useless. If it cannot, it must generally be hurtful. It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what will cost him more to make than to buy. The tailor does not attempt to make his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker. The shoemaker does not attempt to make his own clothes, but employs a tailor. The farmer attempts to make neither the one nor the other, but employs those different artificers. All of them find it for their interest to employ their whole industry in a way in which they have some advantage over their neighbors
, and to purchase with a part of its produce, or what is the same thing, with the price of a part of it, whatever else they have occasion for.
12. What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage. The general industry of the country (...) will not thereby be diminished, no more than that of the above mentioned artificers; but only left to find out the way in which it can be employed with the greatest advantage. It is certainly not employed to the greatest advantage, when it is thus directed towards an object which it can buy cheaper than it can make. (...) The industry of the country, therefore, is thus turned away from a more, to a less advantageous employment, and the exchangeable value of its annual produce, instead of being increased, according to the intention of the lawgiver, must necessarily be diminished by every such regulation.
15. The natural advantages which one country has over another in producing particular commodities are sometimes so great, that it is acknowledged by all the world to be in vain to struggle with them. By means of glasses, hotbeds, and hot walls, very good
grapes can be raised in Scotland, and very good wine too can be made of them at about thirty times the expense for which at least equally good can be brought from foreign countries. Would it be a reasonable law to prohibit the importation of all foreign wines, merely to encourage the making of claret and burgundy in Scotland? But if there would be a manifest absurdity in turning towards any employment, thirty times more of the capital and industry of the country, than would be necessary to purchase from foreign countries an equal quantity of the commodities wanted, there must be an absurdity, though not altogether so glaring, yet exactly of the same kind, in turning towards any such employment a thirtieth, or even a three hundredth part more of either. Whether the advantages which one country has over another, be natural or acquired, is in this respect of no consequence. As long as the one country has those advantages, and the other wants them, it will always be more advantageous for the latter, rather to buy of the former than to make. (...)
Chapter VIII. Conclusion of the Mercantile System
49. Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. The maxim is so perfectly self-evident, that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it. But in the mercantile system, the interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of the producer; and it seems to consider production, and not consumption, as the ultimate end and object of all industry and commerce.
<3. HUMAN MOTIVATION: SELFISH PROPENSITIES AND SELF-INTEREST>
BOOK I, Chapter 11:8
2. (. . .) man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain
for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. (...)
<4. AN "INVISIBLE HAND">
BOOK IV, Chapter II:9
9. (...) As every individual, therefore, endeavor’s as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value, every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By (...) directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. (...)
<5. HARMFUL CONSEQUENCE OF DIVISION OF LABOUR: 'MUTILATION OF MIND'>
BOOK V. Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth
Chapter I. Of the Expenses of the Sovereign or Commonwealth