Summary of Chapter 3, Worldy Philosophers

Topics: Economics, Adam Smith, Morality Pages: 5 (1758 words) Published: September 3, 2007
Chapter 3 of the book, "Worldly Philosophers" is mainly focused on Adam Smith and the "world" he belonged in. It starts off with the talk of a new vision, a remarkable vision that was formulated by no other than the Father of Modern Economics, Dr. Adam Smith. The talk of his vision was followed not only by a short biography of the renowned economist but of also brief narratives of his "absences of mind".

Adam Smith was born on 1723 in Kirkcaldy, County Fife, Scotland. He was a moral philosopher and a revolutionary political economist. In 1751, the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow was bestowed upon Smith; seven years after that, he became the dean. The unconventional character that was Adam Smith was not the only reason in which he was given much regard, but his two remarkable works, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" and "The Wealth of Nations" made him the astounding and profound philosopher, and economist that he was.

Smith's book, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments", vividly talks about man's sympathy and its role in society. He divided moral systems into two parts, the motive of morality which is man's self- love and the nature of morality which is sound moral judgment, or the act of compassion and generosity. Smith rejected the view in the capability of man to form such judgments which centrally concentrates on his self- interest. Smith's other book, which was discussed in depth in the following paragraphs in the third chapter, "The Wealth of Nations" strongly points out that man and his self- interest are the factors in which society benefits from. These two contradicting factors lead to "The Adam Smith Problem". In "Worldly Philosophers", it is clearly seen that Smith has articulated the answer to this paradox. He said that the answer lays in our capabilities to craft a benevolent view if we ‘put ourselves in the shoes of others'. Self- interest does not insinuate a selfish act, rather more of a sympathetic act.

As the chapter progresses, Smith's viewpoints are soon revealed and so does pieces of his voyage as a philosophical thinker. "The Wealth of Nations" came about during the time he was offered a job as a tutor of the son of a wealthy and prominent man named Charles Townsend. A point and place their journey, particularly Paris, France, jumpstarted Smith into creating his most famous piece of writing. There, he met people such as François Quensay and David Hume. A particular belief of Smith was one on the nature and the measure of wealth. According to Quensay, wealth can be only considered wealth by means of production. Smith however, contradicted this statement by saying that indeed, objects which arise from production can be considered wealth, but wealth can also be produced not only through production.

The chapter develops and discusses Smith's book, "The Wealth of Nations" in a more serious light. This part reveals that Wealth is not a completely original book but a compilation and in-depth analysis of the works and insights of other distinguished philosophers. Smith's main contribution was that he was able to enlighten the people with the whole picture, while others have just focused on one or two topics.

The book is characterized as a disorganized yet insightful one. Arguments go on for pages and it seemed like the reader would never see the end of one. It is also characterized as a book for deep thinkers and for people who have experience, not just any average student. Finally, it is said to be ‘revolutionary'. He was bothered by the ‘promotion the wealth of the nation'. He was also concerned with the motives of the bourgeois. In other words, Smith was concerned with the welfare of the nation. Wealth, according to Adam Smith is constituted of goods that the whole nation consumes. After this thorough discussion, the topic goes back to the vision of Smith that was mentioned earlier in the chapter. The vision is described as a "blueprint" for a new-found social organization,...
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