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A Letter to Dion   By: (1670-1733?)

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Transcriber's Note: The Introduction, by Jacob Viner, was first published without a copyright notice and, therefore, is in the public domain.

The Augustan Reprint Society


A Letter to Dion


With an Introduction by Jacob Viner

Publication Number 41

Los Angeles William Andrews Clark Memorial Library University of California 1953


H. RICHARD ARCHER, Clark Memorial Library RICHARD C. BOYS, University of Michigan RALPH COHEN, University of California, Los Angeles VINTON A. DEARING, University of California, Los Angeles


W. EARL BRITTON, University of Michigan


EMMETT L. AVERY, State College of Washington BENJAMIN BOYCE, Duke University LOUIS BREDVOLD, University of Michigan JOHN BUTT, King's College, University of Durham JAMES L. CLIFFORD, Columbia University ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, University of Chicago EDWARD NILES HOOKER, University of California, Los Angeles LOUIS A. LANDA, Princeton University SAMUEL H. MONK, University of Minnesota EARNEST MOSSNER, University of Texas JAMES SUTHERLAND, University College, London H. T. SWEDENBERG, JR., University of California, Los Angeles


EDNA C. DAVIS, Clark Memorial Library


The Letter to Dion , Mandeville's last publication, was, in form, a reply to Bishop Berkeley's Alciphron: or, the Minute Philosopher . In Alciphron , a series of dialogues directed against "free thinkers" in general, Dion is the presiding host and Alciphron and Lysicles are the expositors of objectionable doctrines. Mandeville's Fable of the Bees is attacked in the Second Dialogue, where Lysicles expounds some Mandevillian views but is theologically an atheist, politically a revolutionary, and socially a leveller. In the Letter to Dion , however, Mandeville assumes that Berkeley is charging him with all of these views, and accuses Berkeley of unfairness and misrepresentation.

Neither Alciphron nor the Letter to Dion caused much of a stir. The Letter never had a second edition,[1] and is now exceedingly scarce. The significance of the Letter would be minor if it were confined to its role in the exchange between Berkeley and Mandeville.[2] Berkeley had more sinners in mind than Mandeville, and Mandeville more critics than Berkeley. Berkeley, however, mere than any other critic seems to have gotten under Mandeville's skin, perhaps because Berkeley alone made effective use against him of his own weapons of satire and ridicule.[3]

[1] In its only foreign language translation, the Letter , somewhat abbreviated, is appended to the German translation of The Fable of the Bees by Otto Bobertag, Mandevilles Bienenfabel , Munich, 1914, pp. 349 398.

[2] Berkeley again criticized Mandeville in A Discourse Addressed to Magistrates , [1736], Works , A. C. Fraser ed., Oxford, 1871, III. 424.

[3] A Vindication of the Reverend D B y , London, 1734, applies to Alciphron the comment of Shaftesbury that reverend authors who resort to dialogue form may "perhaps, find means to laugh gentlemen into their religion, who have unfortunately been laughed out of it." See Alfred Owen Aldridge, "Shaftesbury and the Deist Manifesto," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society , New Series, XLI (1951), Part 2, p. 358.

Berkeley came to closest grips with The Fable of the Bees when he rejected Mandeville's grim picture of human nature, and when he met Mandeville's eulogy of luxury by the argument that expenditures on luxuries were no better support of employment than equivalent spending on charity to the poor or than the more lasting life which would result from avoidance of luxury.[4]

[4] Francis Hutcheson, a fellow townsman of Berkeley, had previously made these points against Mandeville's treatment of luxury in letters to the Dublin Journal in 1726, (reprinted in Hutcheson, Reflections upon Laughter, and Remarks upon the Fable of the Bees , Glasgow, 1750, pp... Continue reading book >>

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