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A biography of adam smith a scottish political economist

In this work, Smith outlined the importance of sympathy for other people as a key element of human morality. He was good friends with David Hume and together they were a key element in the Scottish Enlightenment. He excelled and gained a scholarship to study at Balliol College, Oxford University.

However, Smith found his time in Oxford disappointing; he was unimpressed by the standard of teaching, finding that most tutors had little interest in teaching.

Adam Smith (1723-1790)

As a consequence, he returned to Scotland where he began giving lectures in Edinburgh before taking up a post in Glasgow University. From 1751, he was a professor of Moral philosophy at Glasgow University. His teaching and lectures became widely known and he attracted students from all over Europe. Around 1750, he met the philosopher David Hume.

They shared a similarity of beliefs about liberty, free speech and philosophy. It became an important personal and intellectual friendship for Smith, and it played an important role in his own moral philosophy.

Biography of Adam Smith (1723-1790)

In 1759, he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments. This developed the idea that in human relations, sympathy for other people is a key element of morality and human behaviour.

  1. In particular, he was concerned about the growth of monopoly power.
  2. At the end of 1763 Smith obtained a lucrative post as tutor to the young duke of Buccleuch and resigned his professorship.
  3. He died in the city on 17 July 1790.

This concentration on sympathy may sound contradictory to his later writings on economics, which emphasised how selfish actions can contribute to the greater good. However, Smith was aware that taking into account the welfare of others contributed to our own feeling of well-being. Also, different aspects of life brought out different sides to people.

For example, in designing a factory, you would seek to make most efficient decision e. In deciding how to deal with the poor, human sympathy became an important element of individual choice.

Scope and Content

Adam Smith and Economics After moral philosophy, Smith became more interested in the subject of political economy. His writings concentrated on the value of labour. This was a different approach to the philosophy of Mercantilism which was common at the time. Mercantilism suggested a countries wealth depended on the reserves of gold and silver. Smith argued the productivity of labour was the key factor.

He stated that if people seek to maximise their own self-interests it would lead to an efficient outcome for the whole of society. This suggested there was no conflict between pursuing selfish ends and the whole society benefiting. Despite offering a justification for capitalist society and the workings of the market, Smith was also aware private business could end up exploiting consumers if they were not checked.

Adam Smith Biography

In particular, he was concerned about the growth of monopoly power. Outside of economics, Smith opposed imperialism, slavery and vast inequality. His biggest legacy was perhaps in the development of modern economics. His work would later be expanded upon by economists who developed his models of supply and demand, such as Walras general equilibrium and Paul Samuelson supply and demand in wages and rent.

Smith was also an important influence on the free trade movement of the 19th Century and hastened the demise of mercantilism as the prevailing ideology of political economy.

Adam Smith

Smith is best remembered for his support of free markets, though his work suggests it is more complicated and it would be unfair to label him as an unbridled supporter of laissez-faire no government intervention. Smith remained unmarried and stayed close to his mother, until her passing.

  • Nor did he see the commercial system itself as wholly admirable;
  • Smith saw humans as creatures driven by passions and at the same time self-regulated by their ability to reason and—no less important—by their capacity for sympathy;
  • Couched in the spacious, cadenced prose of his period, rich in imagery and crowded with life, The Wealth of Nations projects a sanguine but never sentimental image of society;
  • Smith remained unmarried and stayed close to his mother, until her passing;
  • In 1776, Smith moved to London;
  • Influenced by the strong recommendations of Hume and his own admiration for The Theory of Moral Sentiments, he approached Smith to take the charge.

He was characterised as rather ungainly in appearance and was rather absent-minded in the real world. He often paid little attention to outer details, caught up in his own world of thought and ideas.

  • In the western world, it is the most influential book on the subject ever published;
  • Never so finely analytic as David Ricardo nor so stern and profound as Karl Marx , Smith is the very epitome of the Enlightenment:

Last updated 25 Feb 2018. The Essential Adam Smith.