Selections from the Works of Fourier

Selections from the Works of Fourier

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Selections from the Works of Fourier

Selections from the Works of Fourier

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Excerpt

More than one of our readers perhaps will be somewhat scandalised to see the name of Fourier enter into this collection, following upon that of Adam Smith, of J. B. Say, of Ricardo: -- but no one, surely, will be more surprised than Fourier himself would have been, had he been able to behold himself in such company. He professed, in fact, for all economists (whom, indeed, with the exception of J. B. Say, he appears not to have read), and for political economy itself, a supreme contempt, and he classed this science, along with metaphysics, moral philosophy, and politics, under the head of the "four uncertain sciences," an epithet which really implies nothing very dishonourable; but neither is it one altogether undeserved.

Everybody knows Fourier by name; nobody has read his books: consequently, although almost a contemporary, he already belongs to a legendary world. Cham's albums of caricature, which represent him with a tail having an eye at its extremity, Louis Reybaud Etudes sur les Réformateurs modernes, inspired by somewhat the same spirit, some words of his vocabulary, which by their oddity impressed themselves upon the mind -- phalanstère, papillonne, cabaliste, l'attraction passionelle -- : these are about the only records by which the public has been able to form an idea of Fourier, and this idea may be summed up in two words: he was a socialist of the worst type, that is, of the communist type, and a madman.

And I may add that those who perchance might have the courage to go back to Fourier's books themselves, would find themselves rather confirmed in their unflattering opinion, at least if they consulted the original editions, and if they stopped at a first examination. And indeed the sight of those enormous . . .

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