Treating of bodies medical and political

Dr. Mandeville's materialism


  • Harold J. Cook Brown University, United States



London medical institutions, empiricism, passions, remedies


Medicine was one of the chief empirical and philosophical sources for early modern political economy, helping to move analysis from moral to natural philosophy, and Mandeville was educated as a physician. He adopted a materialistic view of the body and passions that could be found at Leiden and a few other places at the time. When he emigrated to London, he also became embroiled in some of the heated political debates about the best kind of medical practice, joining the party that sought new medical methods from the empirical observation of experts like himself, who used their knowledge to intervene in the physical bodies of their patients rather than to persuade them to alter their ways of life. Skilful politicians were like skilful physicians, requiring them to understand the bodily passions. His politics therefore remained concerned with the nature of persons rather than societies.

Author Biography

Harold J. Cook, Brown University, United States

Harold J. Cook is John F. Nickoll Professor in the Department of History at Brown University.




How to Cite

Cook, H. J. (2016). Treating of bodies medical and political: Dr. Mandeville’s materialism. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 9(1), 1–31.