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Thomas Robert Malthus.

Roberto Henry Ebelt


Thomas Robert Malthus.

Most everybody has something bad to say about Malthus. I, myself, find him a very intelligent person, able to see beyond the tip of his nose, which is not the case of many national and international leaders at the present time. At the time when the population of planet Earth reaches the irrational number of 7 billion inhabitants, it is important to review Malthus’s ideas.

Thomas Robert Malthus was born in England, and England really seems to be always ahead of the time in several aspects. For example:

1. they had the first universities in the world;
2. they played the most important part in the industrial revolution;
3. they managed, in a way or another, to get rid of the power that the Pope exerted on the English people;
4. they never had and still don’t have a constitution (an instrument so delusive that Brazil has already had six different constitutions plus seven constitutional amendments or modifications).
5. They speak the simplest language, in terms of structure, in the Western Hemisphere, and so on.

The Reverend FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge) (13 or 14 February 1766 – 23 or 29 December 1834)] was an English scholar, influential in political economy and demography. Malthus popularized the economic theory of rent.

Classical economics

Thomas Robert Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus

Born: February 14, 1766 in Surrey, England

Died: December 29, 1834 (aged 68) in Bath, England

Nationality: British

Field: demography, macroeconomics, evolutionary economics[

Opposed: William Godwin, Jean-Baptiste Say, Marquis de Condorcet, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Ricardo

Influences: David Ricardo, Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi

Influenced: Charles Darwin, Francis Place, Garrett Hardin, John Maynard Keynes, Pierre Francois Verhulst, Alfred Russel Wallace, Karl Marx, Mao Zedong

Contributions: Malthusian growth model

Malthus has become widely known for his theories about population and its increase or decrease in response to various factors. The six editions of his An Essay on the Principle of Population, published from 1798 to 1826, observed that, eventually, population is checked by famine and disease.

He wrote in opposition to the popular (and naïve) view in 18th-century Europe that saw society as improving and in principle as perfectible. William Godwin and the Marquis de Condorcet, for example, believed in the possibility of almost limitless improvement of society. So, in a more complex way, did Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose notions centered on the goodness of man and the liberty of citizens bound only by the social contract—a form of popular sovereignty.

Malthus thought that the dangers of population growth would preclude (make impossible) endless progress towards a utopian society: "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man".

As an Anglican clergyman, Malthus saw this situation as divinely imposed to teach virtuous behavior. Believing that one could not change human nature, Malthus wrote:
Must it not then be acknowledged by an attentive examiner of the histories of mankind, that in every age and in every State in which man has existed, or does now exist
That the increase of population is necessarily limited by the means of subsistence,
That population does invariably increase when the means of subsistence increase, and,
That the superior power of population is repressed, and the actual population kept equal to the means of subsistence, by misery and vice.

Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency (urgency). He criticized the Poor Laws, and (alone among important contemporary economists) supported the Corn Laws, which introduced a system of taxes on British imports of wheat. He thought these measures would encourage domestic production, and so promote long-term benefits.
Malthus became hugely influential, and controversial, in economic, political, social and scientific thought. Many of those whom subsequent centuries term evolutionary biologists read him, notably Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, for each of whom Malthusianism became an intellectual stepping-stone to the idea of natural selection. Malthus remains a writer of great significance and controversy.

I wish you an excellent weekend. If you need any help regarding English, please send me an e-mail.

Tags: Roberto Henry Ebelt, ensino, inglês

Roberto Henry Ebelt é professor, escritor, escreveu uma coluna semanal para o Jornal do Comércio de Porto Alegre entre 2001 e 2013, e é diretor do curso HENRY'S BUSINESS ENGLISH desde 1971.

Seu mais recente livro, O QUE VOCÊ DEVE SABER ANTES DE ESTUDAR INGLÊS, pode ser encontrado nas livrarias Disal, Cultura e SBS ou à rua Hoffmann, 728 em Porto Alegre.

E-mail: roberto@henrys.com.br
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