Vol. 3: McKee, Francis.

Type: Article

McKee, Francis. ‘Francis Hutcheson and Bernard Mandeville’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 3 (1988), pp 123-132.

In the Dublin of 1725 – influenced by Swift’s Drapier’s Letters — the corrupt administration and the nature of Irish identity were much discussed. According to McKee, this is the political context in which Francis Hutcheson’s Dublin 1725 Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, and its criticism of Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, should be read. The enlarged 1723 edition of Mandeville’s Fable, a defence of luxury which had provoked considerable controversy in England, aroused Hutcheson, a leading presbyterian figure in Dublin and member of the Molesworth Circle, to challenge Mandeville’s arguments on morality and aesthetics. The texts Hutcheson wrote — his Inquiry and three essays in the Weekly Journal – show that he thought Mandeville’s assertion of the interdependence of body, mind and soul a dangerous theory. Hutcheson resisted “any effort to link the body with a mind or soul”. McKee concludes that, “an examination of the broad context in which Hutcheson wrote can illuminate the anxieties which lay behind the evolution of taste”.