T.R. Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus first came to my attention several months ago. I was expressing my opinion that famine and war and stuff might not necessarily be a bad thing (that doesn't mean we should do something about it) and my dad said I sounded like him. Not knowing who he was, I looked Malthus up. Then, in AP Euro a couple months later we got..... an enitre paragraph in the book on Malthus!!! We then had an assignment to do a research paper on a topic of our choice based on what we've covered in class. Guess what I chose to do my paper on?

It's been interesting to learn what Malthus really thought. He's quoted a lot, but never really accurately. In the first reading of his essay on population, I was impressed. It's well written. I'm still trying to figure out if I totally agree with him on everything, but he makes a lot of what I think are good points. Here's a shortened version of my paper.

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood men of his time and into the future was Thomas Malthus. Although Malthus was an economist, his theories on population have sparked debate all over the world. The name Malthus or the term Malthusian theory makes people think of what people consider his somewhat negative views on population. Malthus's theories had an impact on his own society and have continued to influence society and ideas in the 200-plus years since his famous work Essay on Population was published. Malthus's ideas an unseen, unrecognized forces in several theories that developed at a later date.

Born February 13, 1766, in Rookery, England, Thomas Robert Malthus was the second son and fifth child of the rather wealthy Daniel Malthus. He hardly ever went by Thomas, instead choosing to use his middle name of Robert. His father knew Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume personally, so Thomas Robert Malthus grew up under the influence of those men's writings and philosophies. Never educated in a public school, Malthus was taught by tutors. In 1784, Malthus entered Jesus College at Cambridge and became an ordained minister for the Church of England. Around 1796, Malthus became a fellow of Jesus College. About the same time, he received a ministry in a small parish in the Surrey area. Consequently, he divided his time between Cambridge and the Surrey area. Around 1805, Malthus became professor of modern history and political economy at East India Company's College at Haileybury where he remained until he died in 1834.

Despite being educated with the ideals of Rousseau, Malthus disagreed with most of them and frequently debated his father about these ideas. In 1798--after an intellectual debate with William Godwin, father of Mary Shelley and with the urging of his father, who also disagreed with Malthus--Malthus set down his ideas on population in his now well-known Essay on Population. Essay on Population was first published anonymously, but Malthus's identity later become known.

Malthus states two postulates in the Essay: “First, That food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state”. Malthus articulates his second postulate because William Godwin had conjectured that passion between the sexes could diminish in the future. Malthus did not foresee that happening in the future, and he made that idea a part of his argument.

Malthus then goes on to state, “Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.”. Many scholars consider this part of Malthus's argument somewhat invalid in today's world because of the advances in science and technology that have allowed an increase of the amount of food produced on the land. This is a not totally true consideration because Essay on Population does talk about how when a check is removed, population will grow until it reaches and exceeds a new check. In a finite world, technology can only increase production so much before the checks will fall into place.

Throughout his Essay on Population, Malthus is constantly refuting the arguments of Godwin and articulating his own thoughts on the subjects of what happens when the world becomes overpopulated and what should be done about the issue. He saw that in the natural world, there is a very wide spread of plant and animal life and that when those populations grew over the sustainable limits, nature puts checks on the populations to keep them near where they should be. Malthus believed that the same was true of humans. Malthus believed that those checks, consisting mostly of famine and war, were a good thing because they were nature's way of controlling the population when it went over the limit imposed by nature.

Malthus was also trying to make sense of why there was suffering and evil in the world. The “Supreme Creator” is mentioned several times throughout Essay on Population. Malthus eventually comes to the conclusion that “Evil exists in the world not to create despair but activity.” For Malthus, the presence of evil was to encourage good behavior. It is man's duty to try to avoid evil and to better themselves. The laws of nature had been formed around this concept of evil as a means if encouraging good. Malthus's religious background is seen in the closing chapters of Essay on Population as Malthus discusses the evil in the world and man bettering himself morally to “fulfill the will of his Creator”.

This first version of Essay on Population caused a great deal of outcry among the public. They believed Malthus was a very brutal man and saw him as an opponent to “Utopian hopes for rapidly improving living conditions for the great masses”. In 1803 after traveling and doing more research in Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia, Malthus published a second edition of Essay on Population. This version of the essay had a drastically softened tone about the fate of mankind. Malthus conceded that it took time for children to increase the supply of workers and that there may have been some other factors that influenced population growth.

In the second edition, Malthus also proposed positive and preventative checks to help with population growth. Preventative checks include realizing how much it costs to raise a family and waiting to get married until a later age. Positive checks include poor children dying because of lack of nutrition or resources to care for them. War and famine could also be considered positive checks because population was being controlled naturally. Preventative checks are more likely to be used by people of higher social classes because they have more resources. Positive checks will be forced on people of lower classes because they do not always have the resources to practice the preventative checks. Birth control was not mentioned as a way to control population because the subject was almost taboo in an early nineteenth-century society. Six editions of Essay on Population were published during Malthus's lifetime. Malthus revised and edited many of those editions, making changes as he gathered more knowledge on the topic. The 1816 edition is the one he last revised.

Many times, Malthus was accused of not following his views, but that was not true at all. Married at the age of thirty-nine, Malthus had only three children. Only one of those children lived to adulthood. Malthus was a very mild-mannered man who was considered to have a very high and distinguished character. He quietly accepted all abuse given to him without complaining. Malthus did not intend to cause a controversy with his essay; he just wanted to give a realistic view of what he saw was happening in the world.

Because if his ideas, Malthus could be considered a realist in a time when being a realist was unpopular. The public saw Malthus as a cruel man for his theories when he was simply trying to promote the happiness of man through real possibilities instead of perfection through fantasy with no consideration for what was really happening to man. In the preface to the first edition of Essay on Population, Malthus acknowledges that his view is somewhat grim when he wrote, “The view he has given of human life has a melancholy hue, but he feels conscious, that he has drawn these dark tints from a conviction that they are really in the picture, and not from a jaundiced eye or and inherent spleen of disposition”.

Although at first Malthus believed that not much had been written on population, he acknowledged in a personal letter after the publication of the first edition that some French economists and British writers had already touched on the subject. Despite this, Malthus is considered to be the first to clearly articulate his ideas on the subject to the public.

Malthus's ideas reached a large population of readers and thinkers and caused differing reactions from other well-known figures. Karl Marx granted him that his essay was “the first serious economic study on the welfare of the lower classes” even though he did not agree with Malthus's ideas. Frederick Engels, Marx's writing partner, also disagreed with Malthus. In one writing, Engels points out contradictions in Malthus's arguments and considers Malthus's theory as a transitory stage between previous theory and new theories about the power of the land to produce. Charles Darwin's theories were positively influenced by the ideas of Malthus.In 1933 John Maynard Keynes wrote that Malthus's works were genius and could take a place in those who influenced the progress of thought.
It's kinda long, but interesting at the same time. Here's my sources if you want a little more reading...
Boulding, Kenneth E. Foreward. Population:The First Essay. By Thomas Robert Malthus. United States of America: University of Michigan Press, 1959. Print.

Elwell, Frank W. “Reclaiming Malthus.” 2001. Web. 29 March 2010.

Engels, Frederick. Overpopulation is a Myth. Population Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Charles F. Hohm. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 36-40. Print. Opposing Viewpoints.

“From the Desk of Malthus: How the Population Debate Began.” National Academies Forum, n.d. Web. 29 March 2010.

Heilbroner, Robert. Teachings from the Worldly Philosphy. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. Print.

Malthus, Thomas Robert. “Overpopulation is a Serious Problem.” Population: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Charles F. Hohm. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 29-35. Print. Opposing Viewpoints.

“Thomas Malthus.” NNDB. Soylent Communications, 2010. Web. 29 March 2010.

“Thomas Robert Malthus.” n.d. Web. 29 March 2010.


Philosophy Football

I know, I should really try posting a little more often. It's not for a lack of posting topics, I can find a bunch of things to talk about (mostly soccer related...). It's for a lack of time. Crunch time with school projects and preparing for AP exams in May. So here's a video I can always laugh at. It's even funnier after having European History for a year and learning who most of these people are.


What Do We Call HIm Now?

I think he goes by P Diddy now, but I know he's had plenty of other names over the past few years. But Diddy has come up on my radar for a soccer reason. A few days ago on the Arsenal board, I heard mention of Diddy wanting to but a Championship football team. Crystal Palace to be exact. It was something to laugh about.
Yesterday, while listening to the radio, one of the DJs made mention of Diddy's wish.And it was so funnt because she totally butchered the delivery. But I still got the message.
Hopefully Diddy doesn't buy Palace. I heard he only wants to buy the club because he fancies the name. That would just ruin the stability that Palace has now.


What A Day

IN my opinion, today was a pretty good day. Nothing too stressful at school. All my tests were either the past two days oy tomorrow. I had Future Soldiers today. We payed touch football with Navy (a 'joint operation'). It was such a beautiful day that I went for a two mile run after dinner. I'm not too sure why I did that since I got some running in at Future Soldiers, but it was good all the same. And I just might go stare at the stars when it gets dark enough......


Big Kid

Yesterday, I got told a few things by a wonderful three year old.

1. I was a big kid. (No surprise there)

2. Big kids can’t play with the toys or have fun.

That second fact was news to me. I guess I’ve been breaking the rules all these years with my toy playing and fun having.

But sometimes I think people (Christians especially) have that same mentality of being a Christian. No ‘playing with toys’ or having fun when you grow up and become God’s kid. God wouldn’t want us to have FUN would he? God’s a funsucker. That’s not true. God wants what is best for his kids. God wants his kids to have fun. Yeah, there are parts that aren’t fun. But there’s a lot more that is fun. I am too big to fit in the play house or go down the little slide, but there’s a lot more fun to have and toys to play with. Some of my funnest moments have been while being one of God’s kids.

I may be a big kid, but it’s still a lot of fun. And that three year old will someday learn that being a big kid is a lot of fun. Will everyone else ever learn that being God’s kid is fun too?



It's hard to believe that two weeks ago 18 inches of snow was dropped on my yard. I was so sore of shoveling and just thought it was a huge pain in the butt. But then it started warming up a bit. I wore shorts all this week. And now the snow is almost gone. It's been SO warm that 18 inches of snow is almost one. It kind of reminds me of my senior year. All that snow is like the beginning of the year; a pain in the butt. But now, the snow is almost melted and I'm almost ready to graduate. How Exciting!

As an Arsenal fan, it's my duty to not really like Manchester United. Actually, I started liking Arsenal because I didn't like Manchester United.
The Glazer family practically owns United. But fans are starting to not like that. I've seen a number that they've put United 1 billion in debt. So fans are starting to fight back. They want to take over ownership of their team even though United is arguabally one of the the best teams in the world. They have started a movenemt to kick the Glazers out using the original green and gold of United from a long time ago. What's greater is, even though he denies supporting it, former United player David Beckham walked off the pitch of the Champion's League United v. Milan game with a green and gold scarf.
Something's got to change if the United fans don't like it. And even though I don't like them, I hpe they get the change they want. If the Glazers take over much more, I'm scared for the future.


Arsenal 5-0 Porto (h;CL)

With that score, we made it into the final 8 of this year's Champion's League. I remember a few weeks ago when Arsenal lost 2-1 to Porto away. I was incredibally nervous about today's game because of that score. I don't know how we pulled out such a score in a Champion's League game.

Dear ole Bentdner had a hat trick. When that guy turns the heat on he can really fly. I wish he would do it more often.Eboue and Nasri also had a goal apiece. Fabregas was out of the game with an injury and people seemed skeptical that Arsenal would win. But I did see an article about Wenger saying there was no excuse for the Arsenal not to win. I guess they listened to Wenger for once.My man Rosicky played, but didn't score. But that's better than you could say about him a year ago.

I was rather pleased when I came home and saw Arsenal was up 2-0. Goal #3 was a big air pump. Goal #4 was a rather large screaming, fist pumping, freaking out celebration. My dad actually came downstairs to see what was wrong. I figured we had the game, so I re-loaded my terrace chants onto my walkman (they come off when we're not doing well....superstition) and ran a mile chanting the whole way. The icing on the cake was coming home to a fifth goal. What a wonderful win.


In My Head...

I feel like I've been going nuts a little bit lately. Mostly because I get words and phrases stuck in my head and then I feel the need to repeat them incessantly. Just today, it's been 'pompey, pompey, pompey' (in reference to Portsmouth, their FA Cup game and all their recent issues), 'Andrei' (Andrei Arshavin, scored Arsenal's third goal today) and the terrace chant for Theo Walcott (basically his name over and over. He scored Arsenal's second goal today). And just for good measure, Fabregas scored the first goal, but I haven't gotten his name stuck in my head.

And, last weekend, my youth group went on a retreat at Camp Orchard Hill (great place). They showed this video and I thought it was really cool. The guy in this is Blaine Hogan. He did some stuff on Prison Break. Check it out.....