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Of The Principle Which Gives Occasion To The Division Of Labour


Of The Principle Which Gives Occasion To The Division Of Labour








This division of labour, from which so many advantages are derived,
is not originally the effect of any human wisdom, which foresees and
intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion. It is the
necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain
propensity in human nature, which has in view no such extensive utility;
the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.

Whether this propensity be one of those original principles in human
nature, of which no further account can be given, or whether, as seems
more probable, it be the necessary consequence of the faculties of
reason and speech, it belongs not to our present subject to inquire. It
is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals,
which seem to know neither this nor any other species of contracts. Two
greyhounds, in running down the same hare, have sometimes the appearance
of acting in some sort of concert. Each turns her towards his companion,
or endeavours to intercept her when his companion turns her towards
himself. This, however, is not the effect of any contract, but of the
accidental concurrence of their passions in the same object at that
particular time. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate
exchange of one bone for another with another dog. Nobody ever saw one
animal, by its gestures and natural cries signify to another, this is
mine, that yours; I am willing to give this for that. When an animal
wants to obtain something either of a man, or of another animal, it
has no other means of persuasion, but to gain the favour of those
whose service it requires. A puppy fawns upon its dam, and a spaniel
endeavours, by a thousand attractions, to engage the attention of its
master who is at dinner, when it wants to be fed by him. Man sometimes
uses the same arts with his brethren, and when he has no other means of
engaging them to act according to his inclinations, endeavours by every
servile and fawning attention to obtain their good will. He has not
time, however, to do this upon every occasion. In civilized society he
stands at all times in need of the co-operation and assistance of
great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the
friendship of a few persons. In almost every other race of animals, each
individual, when it is grown up to maturity, is entirely independent,
and in its natural state has occasion for the assistance of no other
living creature. But man has almost constant occasion for the help
of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their
benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest
their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own
advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to
another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which
I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every
such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the
far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is
not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that
we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We
address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and
never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.
Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of
his fellow-citizens. Even a beggar does not depend upon it entirely.
The charity of well-disposed people, indeed, supplies him with the whole
fund of his subsistence. But though this principle ultimately provides
him with all the necessaries of life which he has occasion for, it
neither does nor can provide him with them as he has occasion for them.
The greater part of his occasional wants are supplied in the same manner
as those of other people, by treaty, by barter, and by purchase. With
the money which one man gives him he purchases food. The old clothes
which another bestows upon him he exchanges for other clothes which suit
him better, or for lodging, or for food, or for money, with which he can
buy either food, clothes, or lodging, as he has occasion.

As it is by treaty, by barter, and by purchase, that we obtain from one
another the greater part of those mutual good offices which we stand in
need of, so it is this same trucking disposition which originally gives
occasion to the division of labour. In a tribe of hunters or shepherds,
a particular person makes bows and arrows, for example, with more
readiness and dexterity than any other. He frequently exchanges them for
cattle or for venison, with his companions; and he finds at last that
he can, in this manner, get more cattle and venison, than if he himself
went to the field to catch them. From a regard to his own interest,
therefore, the making of bows and arrows grows to be his chief business,
and he becomes a sort of armourer. Another excels in making the frames
and covers of their little huts or moveable houses. He is accustomed
to be of use in this way to his neighbours, who reward him in the
same manner with cattle and with venison, till at last he finds it his
interest to dedicate himself entirely to this employment, and to become
a sort of house-carpenter. In the same manner a third becomes a smith
or a brazier; a fourth, a tanner or dresser of hides or skins, the
principal part of the clothing of savages. And thus the certainty of
being able to exchange all that surplus part of the produce of his own
labour, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts
of the produce of other men's labour as he may have occasion for,
encourages every man to apply himself to a particular occupation, and
to cultivate and bring to perfection whatever talent of genius he may
possess for that particular species of business.

The difference of natural talents in different men, is, in reality, much
less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears
to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity,
is not upon many occasions so much the cause, as the effect of
the division of labour. The difference between the most dissimilar
characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for
example, seems to arise not so much from nature, as from habit, custom,
and education. When they came in to the world, and for the first six or
eight years of their existence, they were, perhaps, very much alike,
and neither their parents nor play-fellows could perceive any remarkable
difference. About that age, or soon after, they come to be employed in
very different occupations. The difference of talents comes then to be
taken notice of, and widens by degrees, till at last the vanity of
the philosopher is willing to acknowledge scarce any resemblance. But
without the disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, every man must
have procured to himself every necessary and conveniency of life which
he wanted. All must have had the same duties to perform, and the same
work to do, and there could have been no such difference of employment
as could alone give occasion to any great difference of talents.

As it is this disposition which forms that difference of talents,
so remarkable among men of different professions, so it is this same
disposition which renders that difference useful. Many tribes of
animals, acknowledged to be all of the same species, derive from nature
a much more remarkable distinction of genius, than what, antecedent
to custom and education, appears to take place among men. By nature a
philosopher is not in genius and disposition half so different from a
street porter, as a mastiff is from a grey-hound, or a grey-hound from
a spaniel, or this last from a shepherd's dog. Those different tribes of
animals, however, though all of the same species are of scarce any
use to one another. The strength of the mastiff is not in the least
supported either by the swiftness of the greyhound, or by the sagacity
of the spaniel, or by the docility of the shepherd's dog. The effects
of those different geniuses and talents, for want of the power or
disposition to barter and exchange, cannot be brought into a common
stock, and do not in the least contribute to the better accommodation
and conveniency of the species. Each animal is still obliged to support
and defend itself, separately and independently, and derives no sort
of advantage from that variety of talents with which nature has
distinguished its fellows. Among men, on the contrary, the most
dissimilar geniuses are of use to one another; the different produces of
their respective talents, by the general disposition to truck, barter,
and exchange, being brought, as it were, into a common stock, where
every man may purchase whatever part of the produce of other men's
talents he has occasion for.





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