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Adam Smith

Early Life

The exact date of Smiths birthday is unknown, it is reputed that he was born on June 5, 1723, in Kikcaldy, a small (population 1,500) village near Edinburgh. Of Smiths childhood nothing is known other than that he received his elementary schooling in Kirkcaldy. At the age of 14, in 1737, Smith entered the university of Glasgow. There, he was deeply influenced by Francis Hutcheson, a famous professor of moral philosophy. In 1740, Smith won a scholarship and travelled on horseback to Oxford, where he stayed at Balliol College. In that time Oxford was one of the bigger education centers in Great Britain. His years there were spent largely in self-education, from which Smith obtained both classical and contemporary philosophy. Returning to his home after an absence of six years, Smith cast about for suitable employment. The connections of his mothers family, together with the support of the jurist and philosopher Lord Henry Kames, resulted in an opportunity to give a series of public lectures in Edinburgh.

The lectures, which ranged over a wide variety of subjects from rhetoric history and economics, made a deep impression on some of Smiths notable contemporaries. They also had a marked influence on Smiths own career. In 1751, at the age of 27, he was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow, from which post he transferred in 1752 to the more remunerative professorship of moral philosophy, a subject that embraced the related fields of natural theology, ethics, jurisprudence, and political economy.


During the week he lectured daily from 7:00 to 8:00 am and again thrice weekly from 11 am to noon, to classes of up to 90 students, at the age of about sixteen years. Afternoons were occupied with university affairs in which Smith played an active role, being elected dean of faculty in 1758; his evenings were spent in the stimulating company of Glasgow society. Among his friends were not only members of the aristocracy, many connected with the government, but also a range of intellectual and scientific figures that included Joseph Black, a pioneer in the field of chemistry, James Watt, one of the best engineer of that days and many others.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments

In 1759 Smith Published his first work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In it Smith with other leading philosophers of his time described the principles of “human nature “. He wrote in his Moral Sentiments the famous observation that he was to repeat later in The Wealth of Nations: that self-seeking men are often “led by an invisible hand... without knowing it , without intending it, to advance the interest of the society.”

Travels on the Continent

The Theory quickly brought Smith wide esteem and in particular attention of many famous people. Smith resigned his Glasgow post in 1763 and set off for France. In France he lived about 18 months. After that he went to Geneva, and worked there. After Geneva he returned to London were he worked until the spring of 1767. In that period he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. His intellectual circle included Edmund Burke, Samuel Johnson, Edward Gibbon, and perhaps Benjamin Franklin. Late that year he returned to Kirkcaldy, where the next six years were spent dictating and reworking The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776 in London.

The Wealth of Nations (Исследование о природе и причинах богатства народа) and economic

It was the first great work in political economy. The Wealth of Nations is in fact a continuation of the philosophical theme begun in The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Smiths analysis of the market as a self- correcting mechanism was impressive. But his purpose was more ambitious than to demonstrate the self-adjusting properties of the system. Rather, it was to show that, under the impetus of the acquisitive drive, the annual flow of national wealth could be seen steadily to grow. Smiths explanation of economic growth , although not neatly assembled in one part of The Wealth of Nations. It is quite clear.

The Wealth of Nations was received many grants. It was the success. Smith was therefore quite well off in the final years of his life, which were spent mainly in Edinburgh with occasional trips to London or Glasgow (which appointed him a rector of the university). Smith never married, and almost nothing is known of his personal side. On July 17, 1790, at the age of 67, full of honours and recognition, Smith died; he was buried in the churchyard in his native village with a simple monument stating that Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, was buried there.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: John Rae. “Life of Adam Smith” 1985 William Scott. “Adam Smith as Student and Professor” 1987 Andrew S. Skinner. “Essays on Adam Smith” 1988

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