Saturday, August 15, 2020

Outline of Malthus

I'm about to start rereading Malthus' First Essay as a preamble to reading Darwin's Origin of Species in its entirety. I had last year a more limited project in the context of better reading, and thought well to go back to my original notes which I intend to expand. In the meantime, I thought to post them here. As with the last post, Pavlov, this is more of an outline than anything else. The following questions are the ones that I had in mind at the outset. My proposed indents are busted once again, so it is less useful than I wished.

 

  1. Does it really match my own conception?
  2. What is to be done about charity, if true?
  3. What relationship does it have to Japan's current population woes?
  4. What's its influence on Darwin?
  5. How is it organized & how does it help and reading in general?
  6. Can some of the perfectibility still be achieved?

 

 

I

 

The problem:

Either the future holds

Unlimited human improvement or

Swings between happiness & misery

 

Those holding opposing views do not have a frank exchange of ideas

Malthus' ideas have not been adequately explained by others (Smith, Condorcet, Godwin) and he's aware of the burden of proof. Hence he postulates:

 

  1. Food is necessary to the existence of man
  2. The passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state

It, being extinguished (Godwin)-not happening

 

"Unphilosophical to infer, merely from the existence of an exception, that the exception would become the rule and the rule the exception"

 

Hence:

There’s a strong operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence or

The power population is greater than the power of Earth to sustain it

Arithmetical vs geometrical

 

This results in:

  • Misery (necessarily) and vice (probably+) [however, XVIII & XIX offer a way out]
  • That these will fall on some part of society (II, IV)

 

Hence:

Perfectibility is not possible

 

 II- Reason

 

The difference in rates of increase

  • No state has hitherto existed that has had
    • Pure and simple manners
    • Abundant means of subsistence
    • No check to early marriages
    • Or to higher classes out of fear of loss of status

 

The US, however, is close

 

  • The rate of growth of cultivation (England) can scarcely be imagined to keep up a fast rate (with known techniques)

 

  • The urge for population increase

(The nature of checks on animals and plants and humans)

Causes distress in the lower classes &

Prevents any permanent amelioration of their condition

  • Disparity of population versus subsistence
    1. Initial scarcity

Makes poor much worse

Some with severe distress

  1. More laborers results in lower wages

Labor is their only possession (V)

  1. More inflation

 

  1. Checks the rise of population, yet sows improvement in cultivation repeating the cycle

A reason why this hasn't been evident before is that we only have the history of the higher classes

There is an imperfect labor market through rich conspiracies

 

III-States of mankind

 

Savage/hunter state

The struggle for existence

Thin population through scarcity. Increments result in misery (check). The American Indian

 

Shepherds

Large population due to mobility and food resources

Expansion up to a point the misery and vice. The Scythians.

 

IV-Progress of population in civilized nations

 

Increase as compared to former times: industry of the people

 

The case of China

 

The case of Europe: Check to population #1: Preventive foresight (higher classes) (II)

 

"Can a man consent to place the object of his affection in a situation so discordant, probably, to her tastes and inclinations?" Cf. Walden II

 

The case of England

 

V- Check #2: Distress of the lower classes. Poor laws (welfare)

 

These spread the misery even when they benefit the odd individual

 

The sums and length of time have been to no avail

 

The increase of payouts results in

  • Scarcity and inflation

(primary goods, substitutes and basic inputs such as corn)

  • A reduction of productivity

Through leisure

The means of production are another matter though

If the wealth of resources are not directed to productivity

Some benefit, but the rest are harmed as their share of produce is diminished (II)

  • Foments  marriages with no prospects of productive independence since the parish serves as a backup

 

The nonexistence of such gives rise to industry, sobriety, foresight, thriftiness, virtue, happiness

 

So, (the existence of such laws)

  • Weakens the individual morally in his resolve
  • Increases the population without an increase of the means of its support

 

Call for abolition

Stimulus for land productivity

Workhouses for those in distress

 

General checks: unwholesome food & habitation, hard labor,pestilence, war, others

 

VI- New colonies

 

Cases

Increases the population due to an existing reservoir

 

VII

 

Epidemics

Natural and necessary consequence of population growth

Crowding in living spaces

Unwholesome food

Insufficient food

 

The only criterion of real and permanent increase of population is the increase of the means of subsistence

 

Temporal shocks appear to be weathered by lower subsistence i.e. meaner food

 

Happiness is equated to the match between growth rates

 

VIII- Theses by others

 

Wallace

The problem is still far off

 

Condorcet

There is a march towards perfection

Endgame matches Malthus'

 

"When the increase the number of men surpassing their means of subsistence, the necessary result must be either a continual diminution of happiness and population… Or a kind of oscillation between good & evil"

 

Here too the problem is still far off

 

IX

 

Condorcet

The future extension of human life

Confusion between "indefinite" & "unlimited"

Ad continuum fallacy

 

Biological perfectibility

 

X

 

Godwin's (X-XV) view:

"Population perpetually kept down to the level of subsistence"

Counter

A set utopia fails to population growth (cf. Walden II)

Sustainability

Morally (q.v. I, II)

 

Which? – Misery

 

XI- Passion between the sexes

 

XII- Immortality, progress to

 

XIII- Intellectuality of men

 

XIV- Injustice of political institutions

Chain of deduction

 

XV

Poor man's only possession: his physical strength

 

Share among all equally

Idleness

Vice

Diminution of land produce

 

The miser/frugal as enemies

 

XVI

An increased stock benefits the many?

 

XVII- Unproductiveness of wealth and trade to the state

 
XVIII-XIX- Population as an evil to spur on greater good through mind and heart

 

XVIII- Formation of mind

 

Principle of population tells that

No substantial perfectibility can be attained in this earth

 

One must reason for an explanation from nature to God as the contrary is futile

What actually is (apparent?) in nature

 

There appears to be a process

A trial… it is not, but a formation of mind, out from and away from original sin, through general laws towards superior enjoyment

 

Awakeners of mind (problems to be solved; avoid evil & pursue good)

Wants of the body

Necessity

Were produce is abundant:

Few remarkable intellects

(as opposed to temperate zones)

 

Variety (cf. Darwin)

 

These result in intellect and action

 

Spurs mankind to avoid evil & pursue good

Mind is the result of the exertions towards that end

 

The increase of population is a further stimulus

While there is much partial evil, it is more counterbalanced by the good

Middle classes are best positioned to benefit

Call for their relative increase

Disparagement of leisurely

 

XIX- Mind and heart

 

Sorrows & distresses

Necessary for the most part to humanize the heart and bring out Christian virtues

Christian virtues

Misapplied talents

Good

Evil and death

The will of God

 

Moral evil appears to be necessary for the production of moral excellence and it is doled out in measure according to divine plan

 

Nudge into goodnesses

 

Life is a blessing

Constant exertion

Population is part of the means of the development of mind and heart

(Me: Does he think that God wills evil for the generation of good?)

 

 

 

 

 

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