Show Summary Details

p. 493. Bettering the human conditionlocked

  • John Robertson

Abstract

‘Bettering the human condition’ explores human betterment in the 18th century’s moral philosophy, history, and political economy. The greatest originality of Enlightenment thought is found in these fields through intensive enquiry into the motives, causes, and prospects of human betterment. Central to the enquiry was the concept of society, why we are, or have become, sociable, and how societies have developed in history. The most original, single contribution to Enlightenment thinking was Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s searing critique of the moral and political consequences of the pursuit of betterment at the expense of others. A response came in the form of political economy, its greatest exponent being Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations (1776).

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.