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Destutt de Tracy

“We can scarcely conceive at first that the great effects . . . have no other cause than the sole reciprocity of services and the multiplicity of exchanges. However this continual succession of exchanges has three very remarkable advantages.

“First, the labour of several men united is more productive, than that of the same men acting separately. . . .

“Secondly, our knowledge is our most precious acquisition, since it is this that directs the employment of our force, and renders it more fruitful, in proportion to its greater soundness and extent. . . .

“Thirdly, and this still merits attention: when several men labour reciprocally for one another every one can devote himself exclusively to the occupation for which is fittest, whether from his natural dispositions or from fortuitous circumstances; and thus he will succeed better. . . .

“Concurrence of force, increase and preservation of knowledge, and division of labour,—these are the three great benefits of society. They cause themselves to be felt from the first by men the most rude; but they augment in an incalculable ratio, in proportion as they are perfected,—and every degree of amelioration, in the social order, adds still to the possibility of increasing and better using them.”


Antoine Louis Claude Destutt, comte de Tracy, A Treatise on Political Economy (Georgetown, D.C.: Joseph Mulligan, publisher; W. A. Rind & Co., printer, 1817) Thomas Jefferson, ed. of translation, from the section entitled “The First Part of the Treatise on the Will and Its Effects: Of Our Action,” chapter one, “Of Society.”

By: Redactor

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