Introduction, Part 1 to the Life & Works of
Thomas Robert Malthus
What many know, at least those with an elementary knowledge of economics or politics, is that Malthus is the surname of a man, who, a couple of hundred years back, said that man, sooner or later, universally, will run up against himself; that the population of mankind will eventually outstrip man's ability to supply himself with the necessities of life. The Malthusian doctrine, as stated in "Essay on the Principle of Population," was expressed as follows: "population increases in a geometric ratio, while the means of subsistence increases in an arithmetic ratio."1 Well, that seems plain enough, and perfectly understandable -- if there is too many people and not enough food, then, certainly, there is going to be problems. Malthus developed his theory, at least to this extent: that left alone, no matter all the problems short of world wide catastrophe, humankind will survive, as, nature has a natural way to cut population levels: "crime, disease, war, and vice," being, "the necessary checks on population." This proposition, as was made by Malthus in 1798, was to cause quite a public stir, then, and yet today.
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