In this work Malthus argues that there is a disparity between the rate of growth of population (which increases geometrically) and the rate of growth of agriculture (which increases only arithmetically).He then explores how populations have historically been kept in check. This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc.The first, published anonymously in 1798, was so successful that Malthus soon elaborated on it under his real name.
The theory of mind which he has sketched in the two last chapters, accounts to his own understanding in a satisfactory manner, for the existence of most of the evils of life; but whether it will have the same effect upon others, must be left to the judgement of his readers.
If he should succeed in drawing the attention of more able men, to what he conceives to be the principal difficulty in the way to the improvement of society, and should, in consequence, see this difficulty removed, even in theory, he will gladly retract his present opinions and rejoice in a conviction of his error.
The discussion, started the general question of the future improvement of society; and the Author at first sat down with an intention of merely stating his thoughts to his friend, upon paper, in a clearer manner than he thought he could do in conversation.
But as the subject opened upon him, some ideas occurred, which he did not recollect to have met with before; and as he conceived, that every, the least light, on a topic so generally interesting, might be received with candour, he determined to put his thoughts in a form for publication.
The really good arguments on each side of the question are not allowed to have their proper weight.
Each pursues his own theory, little solicitous to correct, or improve it, by an attention to what is advanced by his opponents.Much less will he give himself the trouble in a fair and candid manner to attempt an exposition of their fallacy.The speculative philosopher equally offends against the cause of truth.The friend of the present order of things condemns all political speculations in the gross.He will not even condescend to examine the grounds from which the perfectibility of society is inferred.I have read some of the speculations on the perfectibility of man and of society with great pleasure.I have been warmed and delighted with the enchanting picture which they hold forth. But I see great, and, to my understanding, unconquerable difficulties in the way to them.Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. The following Essay owes its origin to a conversation with a friend, on the subject of Mr.Godwin's Essay, on avarice and profusion, in his Enquirer.The Essay might, undoubtedly, have been rendered much more complete by a collection of a greater number of facts in elucidation of the general argument.But a long and almost total interruption, from very particular business, joined to a desire (perhaps imprudent) of not delaying the publication much beyond the time that he originally proposed, prevented the Author from giving to the subject an undivided attention.