a1 University of Edinburgh
Although his subject matter is far from abstract and his arguments comparatively free from obscurity, Bernard Mandeville has generally been acknowledged a difficult philosopher. It is not hard to see why. First, Mandeville deliberately sets out to generate paradoxes. Secondly, he is not a systematic writer. His views are expounded and developed in a number of works of which The Fable of the Bees is only the best known. Thirdly, and most important, he is not solely a philosopher, but also a satirist. His satire is intertwined with his purely philosophical theories and his style is often highly ironic. Any interpretation of Mandeville must consider his philosophical and his satirical intentions.