Economic Sophisms/119

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<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"social sciences must abound more in sophisms than others, because in them each man takes counsel of his own judgment and instincts; 2d, That it is in these sciences that sophisms are especially mischievous, because they mislead public opinion, and in a matter, too, with reference to which public opinion is force, is law.

In these sciences, then, we have need of two sorts of books, those which explain them, and those which further and advance them—those which establish truth, and those which combat error.

It seems to me that the inherent fault of this little work, repetition, is exactly what will make it useful.

In the question I have treated, each sophism has undoubtedly its own formula, and its special bearing, but all may be traced to a common root, which is, forgetting men's interests as consumers. To point out that a thousand errors may be traced to this prolific sophism, is to teach the public to detect it, to estimate it at its true worth, and to distrust it, under all circumstances.

After all, the design of my present work is not exactly to implant convictions, but rather to awaken doubts.

I have no expectation that the reader, on laying down the book, win exclaim I know; I would much rather that he should say candidly, I am ignorant!

"I am ignorant, for I begin to fear that there is something illusory in the flattering promises of scarcity." (Sophism I.)

"I am not so much charmed with obstacles as I once was. (Sophism II.)

"Effort without result no longer appears to me so desirable as result without effort" (Sophism III.)

"It is very possible that the secret of trade does not consist, like the secret of arms (if we adopt the definition of the bully in the Bourgeois Gentilhomme), in giving and not receiving." (Sophism VI.)

"I can understand that a commodity is worth more in proportion as it has had more labour bestowed upon it; but in exchange, will two equal values cease to be equal values, because the one proceeds from the plough, and the other from the loom?" (Sophism XXI.)