The New Science of Man

The “New Science of Man” that arose during the eighteenth century was the beginning form of social science and its principles, which was illustrated best by philosophes such as David Hume, Francois Quesnay, the Physiocrats, and Adam Smith.

One of the first to bring about the subject of human nature as a science was David Hume. Hume, a Scottish philosopher, is a very important person in the history of philosophy. In his Treatise on Human Nature, Hume argued that a careful study of humans, their actions, and the experiences of human life would allow this new “science of man,” or social science.

Next, there was Francois Quesnay and the Physiocrats. Quesnay, the leader of the Physiocrats, was a highly successful court physician. Under Quesnay’s leadership, the Physiocrats came to be known as the founders of the modern disciplines of economics. They claimed that they would discover the natural laws of economics that govern society. The first principle of their philosophy was that land is the determining factor in deciding the wealth of a nation. Land was the main source of income and a nation’s income could be supplemented and increased only by the means of land and gaining more. The second principle of the Physiocrats is that the state should not become involved in the economy and should merely let it run its own course, or laissez-faire. Under this principle, individuals were free to pursue their own economic interests and therefore would be an asset to their society.

Continuing the science of human nature was Adam Smith, a Scottish philosopher. Smith, who was also a member of the Physiocrats, condemned the principles and methods of mercantilism. Instead, he published his Wealth of Nations. In this book, Smith explained and proposed his new ideas for handling economics. First, he said that it was better to import products than to produce them in your home country if the cost was lower, or purchase rather than produce. His opinion on the true wealth of nature differed from that of the Physiocrats though. Smith believed that labor was the largest revenue for a nation and that more workers were the only thing that could improve it. But like the Physiocrats, Smith believed that the government should not interfere with the economy in the state. In fact, Smith believed that the state should have only three main functions, which were, protecting society from invasion, defending individuals from injustice and oppression, and keeping up public works. Smith and the Physiocrats laid the foundation for what was later known as economic liberalism.

In conclusion, the efforts of Hume, Quesnay, the Physiocrats, and Smith developed a new study of human nature, or the “new science of man.”

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