The critical literature on Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees has tended to focus just on its first volume (1725). By turning to the Fable’s second volume (1729), we can see more clearly how Mandeville takes up the human’s transition from nature to state-based society as a serious problem. Attending to that problem, what becomes apparent is Mandeville’s grounding of his moral and economic theory in a state metaphysics, whereby the human is said to secure itself as itself, as human qua human, only in the political state, which is to say: it is by separating itself from what it is in the state of nature, transforming itself into a state-based being, that the human realizes its vocation as a human being. As I show, Mandeville institutes his state metaphysics in shoring up certain features of his preferred forms of commercial society which put it radically at odds with life in the so-called savage state of nature but not, as one might expect, due to a difference of conditions (savage on the one hand, civilized on the other). At issue is a challenge to condition’s constitution, the challenge being put to constituting anything in the face of what is unconditional, in a “condition” of being without condition--which is to say, in a certain sense, of statelessness. The problem of savage being then appears more fully as one of representing what remains antagonistic to Mandeville’s order of state-based existence, an antagonism around which Mandeville nonetheless--and perversely--attempts to claim the State as one of the names of Being.


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pp. 471-491
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