Adam Smith "Father of Economics"

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Final Paper|
Dr. Kang: History of Economic Thought|
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Brian Witt|
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Brian Witt
Dr. Kang MBE 330.01
Final Paper

Adam Smith: “The Father of Economics”

Adam Smith was a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economics. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment and modern economics, Smith is an author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation, now known to be called The Wealth of Nations. Smith is commonly cited as the father of modern economics. Smith studied moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow and Oxford University. After graduating, he delivered a successful series of public lectures at Edinburgh, leading him to collaborate with Economist, David Hume, during the Scottish Enlightenment. Smith obtained a professorship at Glasgow teaching moral philosophy. While teaching at Glasgow, Smith published The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In his later life, he took a tutoring position that allowed him to travel throughout Europe, where he met other intellectual leaders of his day. Smith would later return home and spent the next 10 years writing The Wealth of Nations, publishing it in 1776. Smith would later die in 1790. Adam Smith was born in a small village in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, where his widowed mother raised him. He was born to Margaret Douglas at Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. His father, also named Adam Smith, was a lawyer, civil servant, and widower who married Margaret Douglas in 1720 and died six months before Smith was born (Bussing-Burks, 2003). Although Smith’s actual birth date is uncertain, his baptism was recorded on June 16, 1723 at Kirkcaldy (Buchan, 2006). Though few events in Smith’s early childhood are unknown, Scottish journalist and Smith’s biographer John Rae recorded that Smith was abducted by gypsies at the age of four and released when others went to rescue him. Smith was closer to his mother, who likely encouraged him to pursue his scholarly ambitions. He attended Burgh School of Kirkcaldy-characterized by Rae as “one of the best secondary schools of Scotland at that period” (Rae, 1895). While there Smith studied Latin, mathematics, history, and writing (Bussing-Burks, 2003). At age fourteen, as was the usual practice, he entered the University of Glasgow on a scholarship and studied moral philosophy under Francis Hutcheson (Bussing-Burks, 2003). Here, Smith developed his passion for liberty, reason, and free speech (Adam Smith, 2008). In 1740, Smith would leave the University of Glasgow after being awarded the Snell exhibition (Buchan, 2006). Upon leaving Glasgow, Smith later attended Balliol College at Oxford, graduating with an extensive knowledge of European literature and an enduring contempt for English schools. Smith considered the teaching at Glasgow far superior to that at Oxford, which he found intellectually oppressive (Bussing-Burks, 2003). In Book V, Chapter II of The Wealth of Nations, Smith wrote: “In the University of Oxford, the greater part of the public professors have, for these many years, given up altogether even the pretence of teaching.” Smith is also reported to have complained to friends that Oxford officials once discovered him reading a copy of David Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature, and they subsequently confiscated his book and punished him severely for reading it (Rae, 1895). Nevertheless, Smith took the opportunity while at Oxford to teach himself several subjects by reading many books from the shelves of the large Oxford library. When Smith was not studying on his own, his time at Oxford was not a happy one, according to his letters. Near the end of his time at Oxford, Smith began suffering from shaking fits, probably the symptoms of a nervous breakdown. He left Oxford University in 1746, before his scholarship ended (Buchan, 2006). He returned home, and after delivering a series of well-received lectures was made first...
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