What I find so interesting in Mandeville, is that he brings to light the discontinuity between the level of the individual, and the level of society as a whole. What is unpleasant behavior in the case of one, single human being, may turn out to be, at the collective level, very positive for the entire society. It's a line of reasoning that you will often encounter in sociology. You will find it, for example, in the functionalist analyses of Robert Merton, developed in the 40s and the 50s of the 20th century. In certain situations, the illegal activities of certain groups of people contribute to the integration of society as a whole. Those latent functions as Robert Martin calls them. May be completely unintended and unrecognized by the participants. But still, the outcome is that society is working more smoothly. That collective goals are reached with more ease. This concept of latent, positive functions is something that Mandeville has a kind of fell for. He doesn't want to praise sinful behavior. But he wants to show that when you find sinful behavior you shouldn't expect it to have only negative consequences. You should as a scientist, also look out for its eventual positives effects. In Adam Smith, you may recognize a similar argument, but put in more careful words. Less extreme, therefore, also, easier to defend. Adam Smith doesn't write about sin or vice, but he does write about people who keep their eyes on their well understood self-interest. In terms of human beings are driven more by egoism than by altruism and that is not something that we should regret. Adam Smith just like his predecessor Mandeville likes to point out that our moral indignation about selfishness isn't very helpful when we try to observe the actual consequences of that kind of behavior. In fact, that actions that are primarily motivated by self-interest may be at a social level interwoven in such a complex way that the mysteriously contribute to an advance in prosperity for everybody. The element of mystery, that is what you can find in the famous expression about the invisible hand. All those individual acts that are motivated by the wish to make a better life for yourself and maybe also for the members of your family, are knitted together into a kind of network that is profitable for everybody. But it's not steered by a powerful person or an enlightened prime minister or a wise philosopher king, even no by God, no. It's the outcome of an anonymous social dynamic that we do not yet quite understand. Adam Smith does not say that the baker is a bad person filled with vice because he wants the hungry to pay for the bread they need in order to survive. But he does say, that the baker has a keen eye for his own interest. And that you should take advantage of that fact, and not ask him to give his bread away to feed the hungry. Now, this is how Adam Smith says it himself. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner. But from there, regard of their own interests. We address ourselves not to their humanity, but to their self-love. And never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages. The butcher, the brewer, and the baker in a time when it was often safer to quench your thirst with beer than with water. Those three literating professions take care of the first necessities. Meat and bread to eat, beer to drink. Now don't put your trust in their friendliness, their Christian love for their neighbor, but rest assured that they will always keep their own interests in mind. There seems to be an element of cynicism at work in Mandeville and also in Smith. They throw a very cold eye on the social world, but their point is that the moral intentions of the participants are not very relevant here. They may be important for the moralist or the theologist, but not for the philosopher. All that matters is the objective outcome. And in an unexpected and surprising way, the objective outcome of these myriads of egoistic actions is an outcome that is in everybody's advantage. The expression, the invisible hand, suggests that even Adam Smith himself didn't quite understand how it worked, but he was convinced that it was something that every member of human society, also those who were completely unaware of it, profited from. That is also why he believed that we should not interfere with it. The social processes are self-regulating. They work best when we leave them alone.