Principles of Social Science (1), Volume 1

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General Books LLC, 2009 - 350 pages
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This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text, images, or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1858. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... CHAPTER VII. OF WEALTH. 1. Robinson Crusoe had made a bow, and had thus acquired wealth. In what, however, did that wealth consist ? In the possession of the instrument ? Assuredly not; but in the power that it gave him over the natural properties of the wood and the cord -- enabling him to substitute the elasticity of the one, and the tenacity of the other, for the muscular contraction by help of which, alone, he had thus far been enabled to obtain supplies of food. Having made a canoe, he found his wealth increased, because by help of his new machine he could command the services of water--and, as nature always works gratuitously, all the addition he was now enabled to make to his supplies, was obtained wholly free of cost. Having erected a pole in his canoe, and placed upon it a skin by way of sail, he was enabled to command the services of the wind, and thus still further to increase his power to move from place to place; and so did his wealth steadily increase. Let us suppose, however, that instead of having been led by observation of the properties of wood to make a bow, he had found one, and had been so deficient in knowledge as to be unable to use it; would his wealth in this case have been increased ? Certainly not. The bow would have been as useless as the trees with which the land was covered. Or, suppose he had found a canoe, and had been as ignorant of the properties of water, or of wood, as we may well suppose to have been the case with the wild men of Germany and of India; would he not have remained as poor as he before had been ? That such would have been the case, cannot be doubted. If so, then wealth cannot consist in the mere possession of an instrument, unconnected with the knowledge how to use it. Were a thonsand bows given t...

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