Beginning in 1794, Bentley began to adopt the economic components of republicanism as well as the spiritual ones. In seeing merchants choose what he considered interest over commonwealth, Bentley for the first time was awakened to the economic side of republican ideology. Underscored by his unique embrace of Rousseau's theories of the state of nature and the origins of social inequality, Bentley's new republicanism was as much theological as it was social. In being willing to consider an allegorical reading of the Eden story from Genesis, Bentley could redefine original sin not as pride or envy but instead as self‐interest itself.
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