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Essays on Mankind and Political Arithmetic   By: (1623-1687)

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Essays on Mankind and Political Arithmetic by William Petty is a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating collection of essays that delve deep into the realms of social science and human behavior. Although published over three centuries ago, the insights and perspectives presented within the pages of this book remain incredibly relevant in today's world.

One of the most striking aspects of Petty's work is his remarkable ability to intertwine practicality with theory. His essays showcase a profound understanding of the mathematical principles underlying societal phenomena, such as population growth, wealth distribution, and economic development. Petty's command over the field of political arithmetic not only makes his arguments persuasive but also lends his work a unique and robust empirical foundation.

The book is divided into various sections, each addressing a distinct aspect of mankind's existence. From discussions on population density and its impact on economic productivity to insightful reflections on the nature of man and the potential for societal improvement, Petty's essays span an impressive range of topics. Furthermore, his arguments are backed up by thorough quantitative analysis, making them all the more compelling.

What sets these essays apart is Petty's unwavering emphasis on the ethical dimensions of political and social decision-making. Throughout the book, he underscores the importance of utilizing empirical evidence and rational deliberation to inform political policy. Petty's work, therefore, serves as a stark reminder that decisions with far-reaching consequences should rely on reason and evidence rather than blind ideology or personal biases.

Moreover, Petty's writings exhibit a remarkable foresight that allows readers to connect his ideas to contemporary debates. Many of the challenges and dilemmas he addresses, such as wealth disparity and resource allocation, continue to plague societies worldwide. His work offers valuable insights into these persistent issues, urging policymakers and scholars to approach them with a more nuanced and analytical lens.

Despite the brilliance and depth of Petty's essays, it is important to note that some sections of the book can be quite challenging to comprehend, especially for readers who are unfamiliar with political arithmetic or economic theory. However, this should not discourage potential readers, as the intrinsic value of Petty's work lies in its ability to provoke critical thought and encourage a deeper understanding of complex subjects.

In conclusion, Essays on Mankind and Political Arithmetic by William Petty is a timeless masterpiece that transcends the boundaries of time and remains highly relevant in today's world. Petty's combination of rigorous quantitative analysis, ethical considerations, and forward-thinking perspectives creates a captivating and intellectually stimulating reading experience. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the intricacies of society, politics, and human behavior from a multidisciplinary approach.

First Page:



Introduction (by Henry Morley) Another Essays The stationer to the reader The principal points of this discourse Of the growth of the city of London Further observation upon the Dublin bills The stationer to the reader A postscript to the stationer Two essays in political arithmetic To the king's most excellent majesty An essay in political arithmetic Five essays in political arithmetic The first essay The second essay The third essay. The fourth essay The fifth essay Of the people of England (by Gregory King)


William Petty, born on the 26th of May, 1623, was the son of a clothier at Romsey in Hampshire. After education at the Romsey Grammar School, he continued his studies at Caen in Normandy. There he supported himself by a little trade while learning French, and advancing his knowledge of Greek, Latin, Mathematics, and much else that belonged to his idea of a liberal education. His idea was large. He came back to England, and had for a short time a place in the Navy; but at the age of twenty he went abroad again, and was away three years, studying actively at Utrecht, Leyden, and Amsterdam, and also in Paris. In Paris he assisted Thomas Hobbes in drawing diagrams for his treatise on optics... Continue reading book >>

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