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Charles Watson
Charles Watson

Discover Adam Smith's Amazing Journey from Scotland to Europe and His Revolutionary Ideas in This Free PDF Biography


Adam Smith: The Father of Modern Economics




Introduction




Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and political economist who is widely considered to be the father of modern economics. He wrote two classic works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). The latter, often abbreviated as The Wealth of Nations, is regarded as the first comprehensive system of political economy and the foundation of classical free market economic theory.




adam smith biography pdf free



Who was Adam Smith?




Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland in 1723. He was the son of a customs officer and a landowner's daughter. He received his elementary schooling in Kirkcaldy and then attended the University of Glasgow, where he studied moral philosophy under Francis Hutcheson. He later won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied natural theology, ethics, jurisprudence, and political economy. He left Oxford in 1746 without taking a degree.


What did he write?




Adam Smith wrote two major works that established his reputation as a leading thinker of the Scottish Enlightenment. The first was The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which he published in 1759. It was a treatise on ethics that explored the nature and origin of human morality, sympathy, and justice. The second was The Wealth of Nations, which he published in 1776. It was an inquiry into the nature and causes of economic growth, development, and prosperity. It also examined the role of government, markets, trade, money, labor, capital, taxation, and public policy in economic affairs.


Why is he important?




Adam Smith is important because he was one of the first thinkers to offer a systematic analysis of the social, political, and economic implications of human action and interaction. He challenged the prevailing mercantilist doctrine that advocated protectionism, regulation, and monopoly in favor of free trade, competition, and individual liberty. He also proposed a theory of moral sentiments that explained how human beings can act morally without relying on divine command or rational calculation. He is widely regarded as the founder of modern economics and one of the most influential philosophers of all time.


Early life and education




Birth and childhood




Adam Smith was baptized on June 5, 1723 in Kirkcaldy, a small fishing village near Edinburgh. He was the only child of his parents' second marriage. His father, also named Adam Smith, was a comptroller of customs who died two months before his son's birth. His mother, Margaret Douglas, was a daughter of a substantial landowner. She raised her son with care and affection.


Of Smith's childhood nothing is known other than that he received his elementary schooling in Kirkcaldy and that at the age of four years he was said to have been carried off by gypsies. Pursuit was mounted, and young Adam was abandoned by his captors. He would have made, I fear, a poor gipsy, commented the Scottish journalist John Rae, Smiths principal biographer.


University of Glasgow




At the age of 14, Smith entered the University of Glasgow, where he studied moral philosophy under Francis Hutcheson, a prominent professor and a leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. Hutcheson introduced Smith to the works of John Locke, David Hume, Bernard Mandeville, and other modern thinkers who influenced his later ideas. Smith also developed an interest in mathematics, astronomy, history, and literature. He graduated in 1740 with a Master of Arts degree.


Balliol College, Oxford




In 1740, Smith won a Snell Exhibition, a scholarship that enabled him to study at Balliol College, Oxford. He intended to pursue a career in the Church of England, but he soon became disillusioned with the academic environment and the quality of instruction at Oxford. He found the curriculum outdated, the professors lazy, and the students unruly. He spent most of his time reading on his own, especially books on natural theology, ethics, jurisprudence, and political economy. He also learned French and Latin and became acquainted with some of the leading intellectuals of his time, such as Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke. He left Oxford in 1746 without taking a degree.


Career and publications




Lectures on moral philosophy and government




After leaving Oxford, Smith returned to Scotland and became a public lecturer in Edinburgh. He delivered a series of lectures on rhetoric, belles lettres, jurisprudence, and moral philosophy. His lectures attracted a large and distinguished audience, including David Hume, who became his lifelong friend and collaborator. In 1751, Smith was appointed as a professor of logic at the University of Glasgow. The following year, he was transferred to the chair of moral philosophy, which had been vacated by his mentor Hutcheson.


As a professor of moral philosophy, Smith taught four subjects: natural theology, ethics, jurisprudence, and political economy. He also continued to give public lectures on various topics. His lectures were well received by his students and colleagues, who praised his eloquence, erudition, and originality. Some of his lectures were later published as essays or incorporated into his books.


The Theory of Moral Sentiments




In 1759, Smith published his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It was based on his lectures on ethics and it explored the nature and origin of human morality, sympathy, and justice. Smith argued that human beings have an innate sense of morality that is derived from their ability to sympathize with others. He defined sympathy as the capacity to share or imagine the feelings or sentiments of another person. He claimed that sympathy is the basis of moral approval or disapproval, as well as the source of benevolence or beneficence.


Smith also distinguished between two types of moral rules: rules of justice and rules of beneficence. He defined justice as the observance of the rules that prevent us from harming others or violating their rights. He defined beneficence as the observance of the rules that prompt us to do good to others or promote their happiness. He maintained that justice is essential for social order and stability, while beneficence is desirable for social harmony and improvement. He also suggested that there is a natural harmony between self-interest and social interest, as long as people act according to their conscience or moral sense.


The Theory of Moral Sentiments was an immediate success and established Smith's reputation as a leading moral philosopher. It was praised by Hume, Burke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, and other eminent thinkers. It also influenced several fields of inquiry, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and political science.


The Wealth of Nations




In 1764, Smith resigned from his professorship at Glasgow and accepted a lucrative offer to become a tutor to Henry Scott (later Duke of Buccleuch), a young nobleman who wanted to travel in Europe. Smith accompanied Scott on his grand tour for nearly three years, visiting France, Switzerland, Italy, and other countries. During this time, Smith met some of the leading intellectuals and statesmen of his day, such as Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert, Turgot, Quesnay, Necker, and Morellet. He also studied the economic and political conditions of the various regions he Later life and death




Travels in Europe




In 1764, Smith resigned from his professorship at Glasgow and accepted a lucrative offer to become a tutor to Henry Scott (later Duke of Buccleuch), a young nobleman who wanted to travel in Europe. Smith accompanied Scott on his grand tour for nearly three years, visiting France, Switzerland, Italy, and other countries. During this time, Smith met some of the leading intellectuals and statesmen of his day, such as Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert, Turgot, Quesnay, Necker, and Morellet. He also studied the economic and political conditions of the various regions he visited.


Smith was especially impressed by the French Physiocrats, a group of economists who advocated a natural order of society based on land, labor, and free trade. He was influenced by their