Abstract

This article explores the intellectual transformations that accompanied the rise of consumption in eighteenth-century France by examining a best-seller, L'Ami des hommes (1756), by the marquis de Mirabeau. The most popular work of political economy of its time, L'Ami des hommes made a particularly important intervention in the luxury debate. Straddling two seemingly contradictory strains of eighteenth-century political and social thought—a classical republicanism that looked backward to ancient civic virtue and an economic liberalism that looked forward to material progress—the book offered readers the best of both worlds: a moral economy of prosperity. This article analyzes Mirabeau's pathology of consumption and places his moral economy of prosperity in the broader context of Enlightenment thought.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 187-213
Launched on MUSE
2004-01-05
Open Access
No
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