PHiLES  home        Keynesianism anno 1709: Dirk Santvoort about luxury (hamminga B. and Kerkhof B.)                last edited 020110

Mon cher Adam, mon gourmand mon bon Pere,
Que faisais-tu dans les Jardins d'Eden?
Travaillais tu pour ce sot genre humain?
Caressais-tu madame Eve, ma mere?
Avouez moi que vous aviez tous les deux
les ongles longs, un peu noir er crasseux,
Dessous un chene ils soupent galamment,
avec de l'eau, du millet, et du gland:
le repas fait, ils dorment sur la dure:
Voila l'etat de la pure Nature" (X, p. 85).

Le Mondain

Contents  The Man The Book The Context References

In this paper we present a recently rediscovered booklet from 1709 entitled "Moral inquiry whether scholarship and science are better, and morals or bad manners of the people are worse than in times preceding ours: and with this the utility of luxury and new fashions and the harmfulness of the so called humility"1). It contains a consistent labour value theory, from which "Keynesian" recommendations are derived for boosting employment, all packed in fundamental criticism on ascetic tendencies in the Protestant religion of his time. It contains definitely Mandevillean ideas, including that of the unnintended consequences, thought the author could'nt possibly know the work of Mandeville.

Local Utrecht authorities on the Dutch Reformed Church judged the booklet to be "blasphemous and bad", and succeeded in having it seized by the municipal government. After that, it was forgotten for a long time. At the end of the 19th century it is mentioned again, in a study by Dr. Sepp on state control over religious literature in the Republic2). Sepp knows that the initials 'D.S.' mean 'Dirk Santvoort', but he did not trace him. None of the large Dutch biograpical handbooks contains an author Dirk Santvoort. But results of archive research in Utrecht and Amsterdam allow us to reconstruct the basic biographical data, and bibliographical research resulted in what we think is a complete list of his publications3).

The Man

Santvoort is one of the many radical, unorthodox amateur philosophers that where in the scene of the Republic in the second half of the 17th and the first decennia of the 18th century. Among them were medical doctors, lawyers and clergymen, but also shopkeepers, school teachers, office clerks and farmers. The official church watched them with distrust. Seizure of books and suing authors and publishers (who usually kept the bookshop themselves) was usual. Also, systematic policies of social isolation were often successfully deployed. The fame of Holland as the Land of Tolerance stems from high efficiency in repressing opinions considered to be outside the humantistic-calvistic consensus. Philosophers publishing such opinions, if not protected by international fame, where completely wiped out the collective memory4), and it is only recently that they are rediscovereD5).

Santvoort originated from a well known and apparently wealthy family of painters. All his uncles were in painting or graphics arts, or ran trades in their products. His father was only one to be put in the iron trade by his grandfather (locks, hinges etc.). Our Dirk Santvoort was born in Amsterdam in 1653. He took over his father's business, got rich and retired, according to a reviewer of Boekzaak van Europa in 17076), on a barn. He therefore probably speaks about himself when he mentions those

"who now had gathered much stock or wealth by their industry; they have stopped working; because they owned enough to exchange all commodities from others, who had been able to gather little or nothing, or to buy from them etc. as is well known." (par. 59)7).

He started to devote himself mainly to the development of a completely materialistic view on the universe. In Santvoort's view, the univers consists of a system of worlds that repeat a process of coming into being and perishing. In our world, man came into being, an animal that learned to think, mainly because its special difficulties in finding food.

Santvoort has daring thoughts, but he formulated them clumsily and without doubt amateurishly: he is totally unaware of the comtemporary developments in science. Even the elementary principles of mechanistic physics seem to have passed him by completely.

The first Dutch version of his cosmology appeared in 16998). An enlarged and improved version appeared in 17039) and one year later a Latin translation followeD10), that was reissued after Santvoorts death in 171211).

The Book

One of the few reactions on Santvoort's writings can be found in a lengthy note added to the second edition of Tako Hajo van den Honaart's "True ways with God kept by man, from a firm principle, according to the created and written revelation of God"12), a mixture of Cartesian philosophy (this "firm principle" is Descartes "Cogito Ergo Sum") and Calvinistic Orthodoxy13). Santvoort is called 'dwaasgeer' by van den Honaart, a play with the Dutch word 'wijsgeer' (philosopher), changing it into 'Lover of foolishness'. Instead of being proud of this title - which he shares in van den Honaart's book with Hobbes and Spinoza14) - it must have gone down not very well with him.

Thus, at any rate, we can understand the intention of Santvoorts Moral Inquiry ... . Hidden behind the appearance of a contribution to the "Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes" (Quarrel of Ancients and Moderns), a discussion, then quite fashionable, on which of the two cultures is to be preferred, is a frontal attack on van den Honaart and generally on clergymen and theologists. Santvoort uses every argument he can find, even he does not believe in it himself.

The booklet consists of two parts. In the first part the Moderns are defended to be morally better than the Ancients. The second claims that in science the Moderns are not so much superior to the Ancients as they think they are. Does Santvoort really believe this? Maybe, but we think he mainly feels pleased by beating van den Honaart, as a symbol of his theological opponents in general, also where he is secretly convinced they are not that wrong. For in all times, the complaint can be heared that modern times are morally worse than old times, and the idea of Modern superiority in science results triumphantly from the "Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes".

To proove Modern superiority in morals he does not use - as usual in the "Querelle" - ancient Greek and Roman sources, but the Bible, "to be more sure"15). For the Bible can't lie, and one can be "most perfectly ensured"16). Didn't van den Honaart proove the "historically unchallenged truth and certainty" of the books of the Bible "with no less certainty, than the Mathematicians do their theorems"17) Santvoort has no problems to show, by quoting the Bible, that among the Jews their was enormous impurity (par 3-7), corruption in jurisdiction (par 8-28) and extreme cruelty in warfare (par 29-33).

To proove his second claim (about science), he takes the "Morale Leere" (moral philosophy) as an example, because it is the "most important and most necessary part of scholarship"18). In order to show the deplorable state of this scholarship he treats some passages of van den Honaarts Waarachtige Wegen (True Ways), especially those dealing with the adequate measure for eating, drinking, clothing and housing.

An easy target, for van den Honaart claims noting less than "mathematical certainty" for his moral philosophy, which must at the same time be a criterion for action: we creatures are completely dependent on God and God's Will must be the guideline for our lives. So, the only task for a philosopher, according to van den Honaart, is to know this Will with mathematical certainty, and then to act in according with it. In reality, we always do to much or to little (because of the "mathematical precizeness" of the criterion), so we always sin and we are al 'servants of idols'.

Take the example of eating and drinking. Who can say that he takes exactly what is needed for his health and the maintenance of his life, given by God? Nothing more, nothing less? And, van den Honaart continues (quoted completely by Santvoort).

"No less one neglects one's duty in using clothes, houses etc. that secure us from the discomforts of the air and more different dangers, if one does more or less than is just required for the maintainance of our body for the discomfort of the air: there, one sees some making their houses into stages of most shameful flashiness. While others, by God forgotten parsimony, do not protect their bodies by sufficient means and do not make sure their house contains the comfort needed to live in it decently." (par. 45)

So, here also: according to van den Honaart always either to little or to much. The same holds for income. Some earn far too much and endanger their health by accumulating offices and earnings. Others earn too little to maintain their families decently. This last group, van den Honaart recommends, should take an additional job.

Thus van den Honaart construes a trap for himself. Santvoort wants this trap to do its work. For that purpose he makes a shift from theologico-moral argumentation to absolutely profane economic argumentation: if there would be no consumption of luxuries, then there would also not be much work.

But before he makes this shift he attacks van den Honaart on his own level, pointing at all those places in the Bible where beautiful clothes, ornaments and luxurious building are depicted as hallmarks of the GooD19). Moreover: in the story of the creation itself in Genesis it can be read that God "saw all he made, and behold, it was very good". All things, Santvoort concludes from this text, are 'good for some specific purpose'. Silk, for example, is produced by a certain kind of worms, and this is no more accident: "God created these worms to have them produce silk; with which God then dressed its people".20) Roughly the same holds for diamonds, gold, silver etc.: those commodities apparently are "to be used by the people, to decorate themselves" which implies "that they are created and meant by God for this purpose".

Is Santvoort really serious here? This would make him extremely inconsistent. His cosmology (see above) contains no idea of creation whatsoever and man is only one of the products of the development in our world (which is one of many), and not the created centre around which the whole material world is ordered. We think that Santvoort uses fysico-theological arguments as ad hominem weapons against van den Honaart. But they also provide him with an acces to a path leading economic argumentation: God has created all things with a purpose mainly to be used by man, but not in a form realy for use. To make them ready for use, labour is needed. Providence shows itself again, because though hard labour can be very inconvenient, "lenghty idleness" is even worse (par. 58).

Labour brings Santvoort to division of labour. Once it is clear "that God's will is that raw created materials are made into a state of perfection by man" he continues that it would be "not only slave-like, but fully impossible if the individual would work at this own needs all by his own. And therefore "the people divided the perfection of these raw materials among each other; one trained itself to weaving, another to carpentry etc: and because everybody chose one of those things; and kept doing it continuously, everybody could more than four times as much, and this was much better". Division of labour implies exchange. Once labour is divided, "as a result they could exchange the work of one, for that of another; or sell for a money-price". (par. 59)

Exchange, in its turn, is only possible when people live close to each other, "by the living together of many people". Now, because the industrious "gather a lot more stock" than the lazy people, an inequality of opulence results, hence "division into parties, disagreements and violence", something like a state of war. The solution of this problem is the foundation of a state "to allow everyone to own without fear and in peace what is his, obtained by industry and be protected in this respect" (par. 59). Inequality requires a state that protects property.

And then it comes: the controversy with van den Honaart gave Santvoort the speed to take off the ground and go in the air. Floating high above his target, he brings us the message of the functioning of the economy and the causes of economic value. He asks whence "Buildings, ornaments, and even food" derive their value. And his answer is: wage costs. After this a labour value theory is presented to us, explaining prices of goods from quantities of labour necessary, in all stages of production, to make them. Prices are determined by total labour costs, often simply referred to as "labour".

Take silk, Santvoort writes. The difference in value between silk and the yarn of which it is made is "a sobre and small wage, of lengthy labour, which is necessary for it" (par. 60). And in writing so he seems, high in the air, still to direct his voice to van den Honaart deep down, because this man intends to throw away as idolatry, with the silk implicitly also this sobre labour "exerted by those who are born without capital, in a sobre state, and who earn their necessities by producing silk" (par. 60).

Only labour creates value, the silk of the worm has no value as long as it is untouched by human hands. And the same holds for the tree and the iron in the soil "because God gave us these materials free" (par. 61). This even holds for gold, silver and diamonds, because their value, unfound, lying in the earth's crust is zero, and, once found, it is equal to the value of the labour necessary to find it.

This, then, is the lesson for van den Honaart: "that so much price as was spended for expensive and beautiful clothes: that it is exactly the same, yes better, as if one would give this money to the poor" (par. 64). Do you give it to the poor, than you do well, but if you buy beautiful clothes, the poor will have work in addition! Modern economists immediately associate these ideas with those of John Maynard Keynes, for whom consumption is one of the crucial factors that keep the economy, the earnings of entreprises, and eventually the income of the people and the employment at an appropriate level. Keynes also considered a low propensity to consume to be a danger for the economy, and in dealing with its causes, he mentions "Avarice", i.e. "To satisfy pure miserliness i.e. unreasonable but insistent inhibition against acts of expenditure as such".21)

In Santvoort's eyes, however, giving to the poor is "good", because he intends to employ the reformed protestant caritas as a tool to convince his readers, eventually of the utility of luxury, while in Keynes' eyes it is good because the poor will spend their money, thus stimulating economic demand and employment. But if Santvoort would accidentally have touched upon this argument, he would, we think, undoubtedly have used it.

Santvoort is a "Keynesian" in his concentration on the effect of consumption on employment, but there's where his "Keynesianism" ends. Once he asks himself how much consumption can be sustained, his focus is not, as is Keynes', on the necessity to spend part of income for investment, and by the limits of productive capacity of an economy, beyond which additional consumptive spending merely induces inflation. No, Santvoort falls back into moralistic argumentation on good and evil, avarice and prodigality: do not spend more than your living standard allows you, leave a little for alms ect. (par. 65).

And thus, we fear, his promising economic vision on saving and consumption is meant to get van den Honaart offside before coming with his own moralism, in the tradition of Ancient and Middle Age thought on avarice and prodigality22). Santvoort leads us back in the dull world of reformed hypocrisy where daily, between earning money you should every now and then think a little about the "widows and orphans", a theme occuring so frequently in the economic literature of the Dutch Republic that Etienne Laspeyres, brilliantly summarizing this literature in his (1863)23) first clearly readably gets the giggles (no tax proposal seems to be complete without saying why it is good for the "Widows and Orphans"), but later, bored by its recurrence, shifts to yawning additions like "Widows and Orphans etc."

When Santvoort summarizes his objections against van den Honaart, the desastrous economic consequences of the implementation of his ascetic morality is the cornerstone: Santvoort depicts a society with empty badly maintained houses, unemployment, poverty, insurrection and serious decline of the tax income of the state:

"if the people would start to follow the teaching of Mister vanden Honaart, then the small nests of houses will be much demanded, and the beautiful buildings will be left by its inhabitants, and standing idle will deterioriate to buildings of the bittern, the slide-owl and the night owls" (par 68).


"Subsequently, trade will decline so much that the income of our country, like tolls, lincents, imposts etc. will fall far below, possibly to a fourth of the present rate. And the same would hold for the other earning of our country: and, fallen so low, the wages of the officers, and of the servants of the Gospel should have to be lowered. But by what power shall we then be protected by our High Goverments against our enemies. From which all becomes clear, that this command of Mister vanden Honaart in its consequences is detrimental to the state and all its subjects, and against God's orders and commands." (par. 68)

Finally Santvoort closes the trap van den Honaart set for himself: how can the poor follow van den Honaarts advice to take, if necessary a second job, if there are not any more? Because all economic activity will collapse.

"Mister vanden Honaart says elsewhere, that when a person cannot earn with his profession enough for his family to live; that he should start a second profession to maintain his household: a perfectly good and praiseworthy advice. But when before so many trades and shops have been dashed, the original profession, which was not enough for this man may have been destroyed with it; let alone he could, in such desolate times, choose a second profession. The number of poor nowadays is so manifold, and so large, that it cannot be seen without great compassion; and if the teaching of Mister van den Honaart is followed, there will be at least ten times more poor" (par. 68).

Santvoort clearly chooses for economic progress and luxury and fashion is intimidly connected with that. It makes no sense to long back to the simplicity of early times. Here Santvoort makes the interesting attempt to play down the perfect state of the "earthly paradise" to the level of the much less valued philosophers' "primitive state":

"One could object against this, that God put Adam and Eve naked in the Garden of Eden: which is true ... But in these histories it is not told, that Adam and his wife were so happy: and when we see his state in Paradise and his happines; that it consisted of this; they were both naked and they did not know: they had neither a hut nor a tent, to cover themselves for rain, wind, and the dew of the night: and with these inconveniences, they had to put themselves naked on earth to sleep: they and neither pots nor pans, to prepare any food or drink: and therefore all their food was raw carrots, legume and fruits of trees, and their drink was water" (par. 55).

Losing paradise clearly means making progress to Santvoort in the Enlightened sense, later formulated pregnantly in Voltaire's poem Le Mondain with which we opened.

The Context

In Western tradition 'Luxury' - in whatever meaning - has always been suspect. ?? Theologists execrated it. But also in the Republicanflavoured politico-philosophical literature attacks on consumption of luxury abound. Luxury is viewed upon as one of the most important causes of political decay ('corruption'): it subverts virtue as an active concentration on the public interest by distracting civilians to their private interests. Also in the economic literature, with only a few exceptions24), consumption of luxuries was target of criticism. Mercantilists stressed the danger of importing such luxuries. And in the Dutch economic literature the decline of the trade of the Dutch Provincies was attributed to the luxury in the ranks of the Dutch merchants25). The different modes of argumentation could mix and Schama26) showed that in the class of "regenten" of the Dutch Republic calvinistic and republican arguments against luxury lived together in peace.

In daily usage, the word 'luxury' (luxe, luxus) always had a pejorative connotation. Mhlman did the relevant research for the area of German language. His conclusion that 'luxury' was most often connotated to 'foreign', especially 'French'. It was only after 1770, according to Mhlmann, that 'luxus' obtains a less negative connotation27). Baudrillard observes a change in the attitude of the economic philosophical literature towards luxury in the second half of the eighteenth century. Mandeville is behind this. Nijenhuis attributes an important role in this context to Mandeville's Essay sur le luxe (1762) in her dissertation about Pinto28). Pinto mentions Hume, Melon and Voltaire as his predecessors, " ..., enlightened minds", who "took upon them the defence of luxury, as in battle"29). Behind Hume, Melon and Voltaire is Mandeville. His Fable of the Bees appeared from 1714 as an ever larger set of comments, essays, defences and further explanations around a little poem that appeared in London in 1905, but which was not noticed at the time30): The Grumbling Hive, or Knaves turn'd Honest.

Santvoorts book appeared in Utrecht between The Grumbling Hive and The Fable of the Bees.

It also seems an obvious deed to compare Santvoorts thoughts with Locke's in Two Treatises of Government (1690). Santvoort, like Locke, gives labour a central place in his analysis, thus arrives at the division of labour, next at exchange and property, and finally at the necessity to have a state in order to protect property. The difference is that Locke (unlike Adam Smith, later31), does not stress so much the relation between unequal wealth, "partiality and violence"32) and the foundation of a state with the aim to "secure enjoyment of ... properties"33). But straightforwardly Lockean seems the labour theory of value that Santvoort links to these considerations. According to Locke, nature supplies us only with (almost) valueless materials "Nature and the earth furnished only the almost worthless materials as in themselves"34). Labour gives them value: "it is labour indeed, that put the difference of value on everything". Santvoort: "The raw and unadapted materials as made by God, and put in nature: are not expensive at all, but estimated by the people to have very little, and some no value at all. But most of all the things: the materials of buildings, clothes, ornaments, and even food get their value, after much or little labour ... to make them perfect, had been necessary" (par. 60). More precizely, this refers to labour cost (the "wage" par. 60 and 61), simply called 'labour' by both Santvoort and Locke.

Did Santvoort read Locke? There are good reasons to suppose this has not been the case. Lockes works had barely penetrated in the Republic in the first decade of the eighteenth century. They were not yet translateD35). Nowhere, Santvoort refers to foreign literature. His labour theory of value is not copy of Lockes: in Lockes view labour explains 9/10 (a little further 99/100) of the price. Santvoort sticks to 100%: "In the above it turned out" he concludes, after having extensively dealt with all possible different kinds of commodities, "that there are no things of any value, that have not become valuable by labour of human hands" (par. 64). 'Labour' here means labour cost, identified, as in the later classical political economy with the necessary goods to maintain the labourer ('necessities' in Adam Smith's terminology) "and once every thing obtained value by labour, so much has been payed for this labour, as those laboures needed for their maintainance and means of life".

Santvoorts theory also differs from Locke in the treatment of gold, silver and precious stones: Locke excludes them by calling their value dependent on "fancy and agreement", while Santvoort anticipates again the tradition of political economy: "but this is, by contrast, again certain, that gold, silver and precious stones are so parsimoniously put into nature by God, that it takes so much labour, to bring it from the earth and the mines; that, having found and obtained it, one shall have only a little more than the wage paid for digging it out. That is why these materials, just as the previous kinds, are obtained by much labour and thereby obtained value" (par. 63)36).

Endowed with this elementary economic theory, Santvoort can definitively beat van den Honaart. Because if value can be reduced to labour, more precisely; labour cost, or the "Sobre and small wage" sufficient to supply "simple people" with "necessary means of life" (par. 62), then, inversely, the purchase of luxury by the rich can be seen as a support of the poor37). Unintended but definitely.

"The rich people, though, buying those beautiful clothes, have not this intention, to favour the poor and to maintain them; this way yet do so, though, and in fact, as can be seen in what was written above" (par. 64).

This is strongly analogous to Adam Smith's opinions in the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Only, Smith can barely hide his moral indignation about this natural course of events. The rich, Smith writes, cannot eat more than the poor, and as far as the rest of his income is concerned,

"he is obliged to distribute among those who prepare in the nicest manner, that little which he himself makes use of, among those who make up the palace in which this little is to be consumed, among those who provide and keep in order all the the different baubles and trinkets, which are employed in the oeconomy of greatness; all of whom thus derive from his luxury and caprice, that share of the necessaries of life, which they would in vain have expected from his humanity or his justice.......They [the rich] are led by an invisible hand to make the same distribution of the necessaries of life, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species".38)

In short: Smith recognizes here the "Santvoort-effect", but he is not unambiguously positive about it. Santvoort is! Once put on the track of untended positive effects of the consumption of luxury goods, he gets unchaimed and starts an ode to fashion. Nothing is free from the power of fashion and the "powerful and other rich people are subordinated to it, they are ashamed to be associated with old fashioned things not in vogue" (par. 64).

And this is all very good, because:

"When fashion changes, everything has to change accordingly, here new clothes, new ornaments are needed: silver has to be transformed, jewels rearranged and so everything: there is nothing that in one time or another is not subjected to the change of fashion; by this, an uncountable number of people of different trades have work: and see! of what utility new fashion is; because if yields an honest life to an uncountable crowd, and keepes them in good honour and reputation" (par. 64).

The same we find in Mandeville's The Grumbling Hive (1904):39) " ... Prodigality.

(N.) Envy it self, and Vanity
Were Ministers of Industry;
Their darling Folly, Fickleness
In Diet, Furniture, and Dress,
That strange ridic'lous Vice, was made
The very Wheel, that turn'd the Trade.
Their Laws and Cloaths were equally
Objects of Mutability;
For, what was well done for a Time,
In half a Year became a Crime;
Yet whilst they alter'd thus their Laws,
Still finding and correcting Flaws,
They mended by Inconstancy
Faults, which no Prudence could foresee.40)

Finally, we presume we are supposed to give way to the temptation to compare Santvoort's ideas with those of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. In this book, Adam Smith sticks to the Theory of Moral Sentiments in that the rich unintendedly serve the interests of "all inhabitants" (that is: including the poor) simply by spending. But a remarkable new distinction enters: the rich can use his capital to pay labourers who produce "particular subjects or vendible commodities", that can be sold with profit (such a rich person is an entrepreneur who finances 'productive labour'). Or he can fritter it away to servants, violin players and actors, "who leave nothing behind them in return for their consumption" (Wealth of Nations, Book II, ch III).

Like Santvoort Adam Smith now completely relies on the labour theory of value. This complete theory about the market mechanism, and price formation, including his view on long term growth, the past, and the future, as well as his political recommendations, rest upon it. But in Smith, there is noone like a Mister van den Honaart who endangers the trade of the Utrecht merchants by propagating narrow-minded reformed protestant fear for women. Adam Smith had a much bigger enemy of historical importance: the remnants of feudal thought in the elite of his time, the thought that a country is structured and ran by a sovereign, his vassals and other servants of court, the neglect of the important role of parsimonious, investing entrepreneurs as true organisers of the wealth creating social machinery. Thus, spending and consumption is, in the Wealth of Nations, not associated with merchants enjoying life, thus unintendedly boosting the economy, but with nobility, those who "love to reap where they never sowed"41) and who finally should start to take as good example the thrift of the investing merchant, who does not speed his money to servants but to labours. And exactly those remnants of feudal morality, bring Hobbes by sheer accident at Santvoort's side in the luxury issue: Hobbes: "Riches are honourable ... pusillanimity, parsimony, fear, diffidence, are dishonourable"42). According to Hobbes, only cowards restrict consumption. This is attacked by Smith:

"By not confining his expence within his income, he encroaches upon his capital. Like him who perverts the revenues of some pious foundation to profane purposes, he pays the wages of idleness43) with those funds which the frugality of his forefathers had, as it were, consecrated to the maintenance of industry.44) By diminishing the funds destined for the employment of productive labour, he necessarily diminishes, so far as it depends upon him, the quantity of that labour which adds a value to the subject upon which it is bestowed, and, consequently, the value of the annual produce of the land and labour of the whole country, the real wealth and revenue of its inhabitants. If the prodigality of some was not compensated by the frugality of others, the conduct of every prodigal, by feeding the idle with the bread of the industrious, tends not only to beggar himself, but to impoverish his country."45)

Smith is fighting here so emotionally against the prodigal, that he even reaches for a religious metapher, and forgets that elsewhere in his book46) religion is disturbing the market mechanism as well.

Smith makes exceptions to the rule. Of course dogs, horses and servants are extremely detrimental, but lasting objects of luxury such as houses, beautiful buildings, nice furniture, books , statues and paitings contribute to the "opulence of a nation"47).

In Dante's fourth circle of hell (Hell, 7th poem), misers and extravagants walk, each of them at their own side half of the circle, with a heavy load on the back. Every time they meet, at the turning points, they have to ask the other group "why do you save?", "why do you spend?".

It may be tempting to conclude that in his transition from the Theory of Moral Sentiments to the Wealth of Nations, Smith started to encourage the "misers", analogously to van den honaart, while Hobbes and Santvoort are at the other side, encouraging the extravagants. But it is not as simple as that. Smith's frugality is meant to boost investment, employment and wealth, while van den honaart's frugality is simply that of a clergyman. Santvoort's spendthrift (if we may say this about a man who calls for budget equilibrium and even leaving a little for alms) is, like Smith's frugality, meant to boost employment and wealth (he only forgets to make the investment-consumption distinction in spending), while Hobbes spendthrift is a remnant of feodal thought.

It is better to view upon Santvoort as the Democritus of demand side economics. He was far too early. First, the economic morality of feodalism had to be extinguished completely. It would take two centuries more, before in 1936 an economist could successfully argue in public that even from an economic point of view a little spendthrift may not be so bad after all, in some cases.


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Brunner, O. Conze, W. Koselleck, R. (ed.) (1972) Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, Band 1, Stuttgart

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Hobbes, T. (1651) Leviathan Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1966

Keynes, J.M. (1936) The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, London: MacMillan 1973

Laspeyres, E. (1863) Geschichte der Volkswirtschaftlichen Anschauungen der Niederl„nder und ihrer Litteratur zur Zeit der Republik Nieuwkoop, B. de Graaf: 1961

Locke, J. (1960) Two Treatises of Government Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988

Mandeville The Grumbling Hive, or Knaves turn'd Honest

Marx, K. (1867) Das Kapital, Berlin: Dietz, 1975

Plato (400 vChr), Politeia Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge: Harvard, 1978

Ricardo, D. (1817) The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, London etc.: Dent Everyman, 1973

Sekora, J. (1977) Luxury: the Concept in Western Thought, Eden to Smollett, Londen, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

Smith, A. (1776) The Wealth of Nation New York: Modern Library, 1937


1) Zedig Onderzoek of de Geleertheit en Wetenschap meerder. En de Zeden of quade Manieren der Menschen erger, zijn dan in voorgaande Tijden: Als mede de nuttigheid der Pragt en nieuwe Modens, en de schadelijkheid der soo genaamde Nedrigheid. Door D.S., t'Utrecht, by Herman Hardenberg, 1709.

2) Cf. Christiaan Sepp, Het Staatstoezicht op de Godsdienstige Letterkunde in de Noordelijke Nederlanden, 1891, p. 180, (Government Control of Religious Literature in the Northern Netherlands).

3) We shall publish these data in Santvoort, Zedig Onderzoek, Tilburg, TUP forthcoming, 1994. We are indebted to R.H. Vermij, who supplied us with an unpublished paper reporting on his study of Santvoort: "Dirk Santvoort, amateur-filosoof en materialist uit de vroege Verlichting".

4) As for instance Spinoza, and in a more restricted sense Balthassar Bekker in The World Bewitched (1691-1694), a charge against witch persecution and Antonie van Dale with his De Oraculis Veterum Ethnicorum (1683), used by Fontenelle in his Histoire des Oracles (1686).

5) Pioneer work on this subject is done by a group of research workers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, vid. H. Vandenbossche, Nederlandse Vrijdenkers van Spinoza tot Hemsterhuis, Brussel [BK], 1974.

6) Boekzaak van Europa, July/August 1707, p. 17.

7) Santvoort (1709), Zedig onderzoek ..., Tilburg, TUP, 1994.

8) Oorsaak van de Beweging der Weereld, Utrecht (Hardenberg), 1699.

9) De Oorsaak van de Beweeging en de Beginselen der Vaste Lichamen, Utrecht (Hardenberg), 1703.

10) Dissertatio Philosophica de Causa Motus et Principiis solidorum Corporum, auctore Theodoro Santvoort, J.Fil., Ultratrajecti apud Hermannus Hardenberg, 1704.

11) Curiositates Philosophicae; sive, De principiis rerum naturalium dissertatio selecta, Auctore T.S.J.F. Londini [= probably Amsterdam], Sumtibus Societatis, 1713.

12) De Waarachtige Wegen, die God met den Mensch houd, uyt een vast grond-beginsel, volgens de ingeschapene en geschreevene openbaring Gods, afgeleidt en zaamen-geschakelt/ doorTako Hajo van den Honaart, Tweede druk, doorgaans verbeterd, en met hetgeen aan den eersten druk ontbrak, vermeerdert. t'Amsterdam: by Gerardus en Jacobus Borstius, 1706, two volumes. We quote from the 3rd unchanged printing from [BK].

13) A mixture rather usual in the second half of the 17th and the first half of the 15th century among calvinistic theologists of the 'coccejaanse' variant. Was made ridiculous before Santvoort by Johannes Duykerius, another materialistic amateur philosopher, in his Het leven van Philopater & Vervolg van het leven van Philopater, a spinozistic roman … clef from 1691-1697, reedited and annotated by Gerardine Mar‚chal, Amsterdam 1991, esp. p. 78 etc. [BK].

14) Cf. van den Honaart, o.c., II, p. 44 noot.

15) [BK].

16) Van den Honert, Waarachtige Wegen, II, p. 3.

17) In the first chapter of the fifth book of his Waarachtige Wegen. [BK: next 4 notes at wrong places?]

18) [BK].

19) And in between he repeats Hobbes' and Spinoza's criticism on the historic nature of the Bible, especially its first five books, a criticism "refuted" by van den Honaart in the fith book of Waarachtige Wegen.

20) ib. [BK?]

21) Keynes (1936), p. 108.

22) Cf. Hobbes Leviathan (iii, p. 44) ("of the passions") mentions Magnanimity in the use of riches, liberality, versus Pusillanimity in the same, wretchedness. The latter is on (iii, p. 79) "dishonourable", because it is no "sign of power". This clearly is a remnant of feodal thought. Van den Honaart nor Santvoort, both preoccupied with labour in a reformed christian sense - not so honourable an activity for a knight - have little in common with that. The word "arbeid" ("labour" in Germanic languages) originated, though, from "arebeit", which used to refer to everything a knight did in order to conquer a women (Brunner, Conze and Koselleck (1972), p. 161).

23) Laspeyres (1863).

24) Keynes mentions some in his General Theory (Keynes (1936), p. 358/9), ??.

25) See for instance Nijenhuis (1992), p. 108 ss.

26) Cf. Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, London, 1987, p. 122 (for the cohabitation of Calvinism and Humanism in the same collective ethos) and pp. 290 ss.

27) Horst Mhlman, Luxus und Comfort, Wortgeschichte und Wortverglecih, Bonn (Dissertation), 1975, p. 46 ss.

28) I.J.A. Nijenhuis, Een Joodse 'Philosophe', Isaac de Pinto (1717-1787), Amsterdam (NEHA-series III), 1992, pp. 104 ss.

29) Quoted in Nijenhuis o.c. p. 107.

30) Cf. Paulette Carrive, Philosophie des Passions, p. 22.

31) Zie bijv. Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, p. 404: �The appropriation of herds and flocks' which introduced an inequality of fortune, was that which first give rise to regular government. Till there be property there can no government, the very end of which is to secure wealth, and to defend te rich from the poor�. Cf. ook Wealth of Nations, V.i.b.2.

32) Civil Government, par. [BK]

33) Civil Government, par. 43.

34) Civil Government, par. 43.

35) cf. hiervoor: Schoneveld, C.W.., "The eighteenth-century afterlife of John Locke's writings in the Netherlands", in: Dokumentatieblad Werkgroep Achttiende Eeuw, 23 (1991), pp. 3-28.

36) Exept Smith (WN, I, u, 7) and Ricardo "I find that precisely, as in the case of gold, the cause of the variation between corn and other things is the smaller quantity of labour necessary to produce it ..." (Ricardo (1817), p. 10), especially Marx, Das Kapital p. 54, who attacks the opinion that gold and precious stones are just lying down before our fact is much the same way as Santvoort.

37) Rather hypocritical Santvoort adds that is mode of 'support' is better than just giving that money to the poor.

38) TMS, p. 184/5.

39) Later also in Keynes cf. above.

40) The Grumbing Hive, p. 68-69. In "Remark (M)" legt Mandeville uit: "To this Emulation and continual striving to outdo one another, it is owing, that after so many various Shiftings and Changings of Modes, in trumping up new ones and renewing of old ones, there is still a plus ultra left for the Ingenious; it is this, or at least the consequence of it, that sets the Poor to Work, adds Spurs to Industry, and incourages the skilful Artificer to search after further Improvements."

41) WN, I, vi, 8.

42) Hobbes (1651) p. 79.

43) I.e. to servants etc.

44) I.e. to wages of productive labour.

45) The Wealth of Nations, II, iii, 20.

46) The Wealth of Nations, V, i, g, 6 etc.

47) WN II, iii 34.