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p. 493. Bettering the human conditionlocked

  • John Robertson


‘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).

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