adam smith

Topics: Adam Smith, Economics, Capitalism Pages: 6 (2346 words) Published: March 24, 2014


Adam Smith and his ideas about human self-interest and the invisible hand Essay

“Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.” - ADAM SMITH-

Adam Smith (1723 -1790) was a Scottish social philosopher and political economist. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations(1776). With The Wealth of Nations Smith proved himself as the leading expositor of economic thought. It earned him an enormous reputation and became one of the most influential works on economics ever published. It is also usually considered to mark the beginning of classical economics - widely regarded as the first modern school of economic thought. Its major developers include Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus and John Stuart Mill. Thoughts of Adam Smith may be found in the works published by David Ricardo and Karl Marx in the nineteenth century, and by John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman in the twentieth century. The father of modern economics was born in the small village of Kirkaldy in the county of Fife, on the eastern coast of Scotland, in 1723. Although the exact date of Smith's birth is unknown, his baptism was recorded on 5 June 1723 at Kirkaldy. He must have been born a few weeks after the death of his father, a customs officer, also named Adam Smith. The economist was brought up by his widowed mother – Margaret Douglas, coming from a family of substantial landowners. At the age of fourteen, in 1737, Adam Smith began a course of study in moral philosophy at Glasgow University, where he was influenced by his philosophy teacher Francis Hutcheson. Being situated at the centre of the ‘Scottish Enlightenment’ Smith developed his passion for liberty, reason, and free speech. In 1740, he was awarded the prestigious ‘Snell exhibition’ scholarship and left to attend Oxford University’s Balliol College. However, due to his discontent with Oxford and the standard of teaching there, Adam returned to Scotland in 1746, where he spent two years studying on his own and writing some essays on literary and philosophical subjects. In 1748 he began delivering public lectures in Edinburgh under the patronage of Lord Kames. Some of these dealt with rhetoric and belles-lettres1 but later he took up the subject of "the progress of opulence". On this latter topic he first expounded his economic philosophy of ‘the obvious and simple system of natural liberty’ which he was later to proclaim to the world in his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. About 1750 Smith met David Hume, who became one of his closest friends. In their writings covering history, economics, politics, philosophy and religion, Smith and Hume shared closer intellectual and personal bonds such as with the other important figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1751, Smith became Professor of Logic at Glasgow University and in 1752 he took the chair of Moral Philosophy at the same university. His lectures covered the field of ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence and political economy. Adam Smith enjoyed spending time in the library with his favourite books and was often regarded as reserved and absent-minded person, eccentric but benevolent intellectual. Nevertheless, he acquired a great reputation as an interesting and animated lecturer. In his spare time Smith had opportunities to meet with many influential persons in intellectual and business circles under the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1759 a major work by Adam Smith entitled Theory of Moral Sentiments attracted attention beyond British shores winning him an intellectual reputation in foreign countries such as France and Germany. The work, which embodied some of his...
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