Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV.: On the Operations common to all the Species of Industry. - Letters to Mr. Malthus, and A Catechism of Political Economy
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CHAPTER IV.: On the Operations common to all the Species of Industry. - Jean Baptiste Say, Letters to Mr. Malthus, and A Catechism of Political Economy 
Letters to Mr. Malthus, on Several Subjects of Political Economy, and on the Cause of the Stagnation of Commerce. To Which is added, A Catechism of Political Economy, or Familiar Conversations on the Manner in which Wealth is Produced, Distributed, and Consumed in Society, trans. John Richter (London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1821).
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On the Operations common to all the Species of Industry.
I have just seen that agriculture, manufactures, and commerce are productive of wealth: by what means do they attain that end?
An industrious undertaking, whatever it may be, is an enterprize in which a man decides, what part of the material and of the laws of the physical and moral world he is able to apply to the production of a useful thing.
What do you understand by the laws of the physical world?
I understand the laws to which material beings are subjected; thus, metals are softened by heat: this is a physical law.
Give me an example of the use of this physical law in any industrious enterprize?
A blacksmith, who uses heat to soften a piece of iron of which he makes a horse-shoe, is the undertaker of a manufacturing industry, who avails himself of that physical law; in the same manner, the merchant, who fits out a vessel, uses for the purpose of sending it beyond seas, the power of the winds, which are themselves the effects of some other law of the physical world.
What do you understand by the laws of the moral world?
They are the rules to which we are subjected by the customs, the wants, and the will of mankind.
Give me an instance in which the undertaker of any industry consults the laws of the moral world?
He consults them when he informs himself of the manners, the wants, and the legislation of men, which may either enable him to procure the materials for his industry, or furnish him with consumers of his products. Some of these laws belong to the nature of man, others to the manners of the country and age in which we live. He who takes into his calculation human vanity, runs little risk of deceiving himself. A hatter who carries on, in a proper manner, his business among us, has a lucrative occupation. He would have gained nothing among the ancients, who did not wear hats.
Who are those who study the laws of the physical world?
Those who cultivate the physical and mathematical sciences: such as chemists, naturalists, geometricians, &c.
Who are those who study the laws of the moral world?
Those who inform themselves of morals, politics, history, geography, travels, &c.
I understand: the learned serve as guides to the industrious?
Just so: and the work of the one, as well as the other, is productive, since they concur in creating products. It is only in civilized and enlightened countries that we see a very great and productive industry. It is there only that we find that great mass of acquired knowledge, of which the industrious, the agriculturists, manufacturers, and merchants, avail themselves.
Are the learned, and the undertakers of works of industry, the only industrious men?
No. There are also workmen under the direction of the undertakers of works of industry. When a workman carries on an enterprize on his own account, as the knife-grinder in the streets, he is both workman and undertaker.