Bernard Mandeville

The man the Foundation takes its name from, Bernard Mandeville (Rotterdam 1670 – Hackney 1733), was raised in Rotterdam. He attended lectures given by Pierre Bayle at Rotterdam’s Illustre School. He studied philosophy and medicine at Leiden University. In 1691 he took up residence in London, where he made a name for himself as a physician.

A prolific writer, Mandeville’s many publications include a work on psychiatric disorders and a critique of slavery. His best known work is The Fable of the Bees, which bears the subtitle ‘Private Vices, Public Benefits’. The work, which focuses on the motives of individuals and the effect that they have on society, caused a stir when it was first published. Mandeville’s thinking essentially proclaims that people by nature are rather greedy and selfish. Although aimed at his own interest his deeds will lead to social progress.