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An Essay on the Principle of Population (Oxford World's Classics)
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Way back in 1798 Malthus wrote this essay to expose how human population is still being kept in check by mother nature. Famine, plague and war pop up whenever a population gets too high.
The essay has been overlooked mostly because of the stance Malthus takes in this book towards the poor. He suggests that when you give money to people who don't work, you help them have children. This increases the population without increasing production of food. Also, by increasing the standard of living of these people, you then qualify more people to receive without working, exacerbating the situation. Malthus clearly supports workhouses to welfare in this essay.
This essay had influenced two notable people. First is Charles Dickens. In 'A Christmas Carol' you read how Scrooge said, "that if the poor would not go into workhouses, they might as well die and decrease the surplus population". This was aimed straight at Malthus. The second person he influenced with this essay is Darwin. While reading Malthus, Darwin realized that population pressure was that "natural selector" that made evolution possible.
If you want to read a piece of history, read this essay. If you then want to get a more modern and thorough take on the subject read Marvin Harris's "Cannibals and Kings".
An Essay on the Principle of Population is important today for several reasons. First, it is an important part of history. Second, population issues still loom large. Also, historian Ross Emmett has reinterpreted Malthus in a way that fits better with world experience. My own reading of An Essay on the Principle of Population fits with Emmett's reinterpretation of Malthus.
Malthus reasoned through one of the biggest issues. This is a classic of political economy, worthy of careful consideration. Don't listed to those who say Malthus has been proven wrong. Read this book and judge its merits yourself.
Dipping down into the original malthusian fountain is, in this way, a pretty much refreshing and inspiring experience, shunning aside the many bad interpretations attached to his original thinking by second hand reading. As a plus, the book presents at the end two extremely beatifully written chapters on the philosophical reasons behind Good and Evil, a necessary explanation in a revolutionary theory that could be interpreted as intrinsically evilsome. To add content and lustre to all Malthus wrote, one has to remind that the greatest economist of the XX century, John Maynard Keynes, felt himself philosophically and theoretically affiliated with Malthus in a very great scale, to the point of saying that, if Malthus had been better understood, the world would not had to suffer the weaknesses of David Ricardo's theories.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I consider this a bread and butter book. One of the basic building blocks of what we consider a "basic education."Published 22 months ago by Jesse Ejsmont
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