Condorcet On The Principle Of Population Summary

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Malthus, Condorcet, and Godwin: Caught Up on Immortality In his Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Malthus ponders a question that seemed to be on the minds of all great philosophers at the time: “whether man shall henceforth start forwards with accelerated velocity towards illimitable…improvement, or be condemned to a perpetual oscillation between happiness and misery.” Yet, while Malthus begins his quest with an attempt to provide a response to this puzzlement, the scholar seems to meander in a different direction. Rather, Malthus spends the better portion of nineteen chapters outlining various criticisms on those who had already pondered the question of illimitable improvement. Though he criticizes the likes of Adam Smith and David Hume, Malthus dedicates the majority of his arguments to William Godwin and Marquis de Condorcet. Not only does he go to…show more content…
Per Condorcet’s argument, this ever-improving quality of life and subsequent transformation of the mind will ultimately lead to near-immortality. In other words, the average life-span of human populations will grow indefinitely. Malthus combats these propositions with the suggestion that there is no data from human lifespans (at his time) to support Condorcet’s theory. If humankind had shown no patterns of lengthening lifespans, then why would any true believer in science and reason accept that there would be patterns of this kind in the future? Malthus suggests that to believe that such increasing patterns could suddenly appear in nature would go against the laws of nature itself. Additionally, in the eyes of Malthus, to think that these increasing patterns should have no limits, as Condorcet suggests, would be “highly
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