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10 thoughts on “Adam Smith

  1. Karl Rove Karl Rove says:

    A really good read this is well written deeply informed and often surprising intellectual biography of the world’s first great free marketer Phillipson argues Smith can best be understood as part of a team with his close friend David Hume that sought to create not a science of economics but a science of man that sought to understand how man thought spoke understood his surroundings and sought to live his life Seen through this prism of a uintessential Enlightenment effort Smith’s THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS rises in importance and WEALTH OF NATIONS is revealed to be of a philosophical treatise than an economics textbook I strongly recommend this book it’s brilliant rich and well worth it for anyone who wants to know Smith and his thinking better


  2. John Crippen John Crippen says:

    After just re reading How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness and before diving into Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments this was a very helpful intellectual biography of Smith Thanks to Amy W for the recommendation


  3. Lauren Albert Lauren Albert says:

    Clearly this was written with a specialist in mind consciously or unconsciously There are a lot of things that Phillipson seems to assume you know which I don’t think a regular educated non philosophy major reader would know Some examples—He mentions than once that Smith was influenced philosophically by Euclidean geometry Now even though he states it influenced his method rather than his content it still is not self evident what that means How could the method of geometry translate to philosophy? Then I kept coming across the word “police” which was clearly not being used as we use it I assumed that it must be an archaic meaning so I checked the dictionary and did an internet search to no avail Only after seeing this word used multiple times does the reader get to this passage on page 173 4 ““Both versions of the lectures culminated in a discussion of ‘police’ that self consciously used neologism he had probably first employed in Edinburgh to consider the problems involved in maintaining what he called the ‘cleanliness’ and internal security of the state and above all ‘cheapness or plenty or which is the same thing the most proper way of procuring wealth and abundance” Wouldn’t it have been nice if he had put this paragraph with the first time he mentions the word?He also assumes a cultural historical knowledge at times such as when he cites an exchange between Samuel Johnson and Smith “Smith was proud of the new city centre although it was rash to commend it to Samuel Johnson in 1773 ‘Pray sir have you seen Brentford?’ the surly sage replied” I don’t know about you but I didn’t get the jokeThis is not a bad book it was just a mismatch for me I found it dry and difficult to follow but I don’t think someone with a stronger philosophy background would have Be warned that it is very barely a standard biography since there is little information about Smith’s life It is much a biography of his intellectual life Now I usually like intellectual biographies but this one weighed too much on the side of ideas and not enough on the side of a life story Given the lack of information it might have been unavoidable


  4. Jerry Wall Jerry Wall says:

    Wealth of Nations published in 1776 per David Hume it reuries too much thought to reach a wide audience p 1Per Adam Smith but the indolence of old age tho' I struggle violently against it I feel coming fast upon me and whether I shall ever be able to finish either is extremely uncertain He was then sixty two and felt he had become an old man p 3 a man in other words who loved correspondence for its own sake and regarded it as a form of conversation that mattered almost as much as the company of friends p 5 coherent account of the origins of our capacity for language by invoking the power of the imagination and the love of improvement p 70 theory of improvement developed p 96Hume everything in this world is purchased by labor and our passions are the only causes of labor the wealth and uality of its labor force and not in terms of its gold and silver reserves p 141 a taught animal Pride and gullibility fed by fashion and the never ending hunger for social approval had made him a slave to social convention unrecognizable even to himself The only consolation Mandeville had been able to offer was that most people were so gullible that they failed to understand what was happening to them p 142Curiosity allures the wise; vanity the foolish; and pleasure both p 144Rousseau had replied that men were naturally indolent and had only been truly at one with themselves in the savage state when they had been free to indulge their indolence by simple living p 148 our senses will never inform us of what our bother suffers p 149Even those who think they know each other will soon learn that the only access they have to each other's minds is via the perilously uncertain route of the imagination p 150Smith 'Man is an anxious animal' p 152Do they imagine that their stomach is better or their sleep sounder in a palace than in a cottage? The contrary has been so often observed and indeed is so very obvious though it had never been observed that there is no body ignorant of it p 153To be observed to be attended to to be taken notice of with sympathy complacency and approbation are all the advantages which we can propose to derive from it human life p 154 dependent on the opinions of others desist from committing fragrantly unjust acts out of fear of the social as well as the legal conseuences p 154 that sentiment which is properly called remorse; of all the sentiments which can enter the human breast the most dreadful p 156 Rousseau once famously remarked that while men were born free everywhere they are in chains life of virtue lived under the direction of the impartial spectator p 157Theory of Moral Sentiments was an essay 'on which the author himself set a high value' p 166when you apply to a brewer or butcher you do not address his humanity but his self love p177 It is a reminder that the Theory of Moral Sentiments the Wealth of Nations and indeed Smith's entire project for a modern science of man were built on the foundations of the Enlightenment's uintessential assault on religion p 190It is not from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner but from their regard to their own interest 'Civil government so far as it is instituted for the security of property in in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor or of those who have some property against those who have none at all' p 217uesnay agriculture was the 'mother of all good' p 218 he intends only his own gain and he is in this as in many other cases led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention p 230 the great enlightened dictum that 'Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition' p 233 An instructed and intelligent people are always decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one dissipate that melancholy and gloomy humor which is almost always the nurse of popular superstition and enthusiasm p 234The Wealth of Nations is the greatest and most enduring monument to the intellectual culture of the Scottish Enlightenment p 137Reading of it the Wealth of Nations reuires so much Attention and the Public is disposed to give so little p 241Hume told Smith after losing weight that 'I shall probably disappear altogether p 241Rochefoucault a Wind though it extinguishes a Candle blows up a fire p 243he had a capacity for self abstraction p 260 the sense of duty I consider my tenure of this life as extremely precarious died 17 July 1790 p 269 we judge people we believe to be following an internally directed sense of morality uite differently from the way in which we judge thosASe who seem to be responding to the opinions of those around them who are acting in a way which will avoid the disapproval of others p 270AS shows that man's industriousness ingenuity and love of improvement were a response to indigence and necessity p 171 each nation ought not only to endeavor itself to excel but from the love of mankind to promote instead of obstructing the excellence of its neighbors These are all proper objects of national emulation not of national prejudice or envy like Solon when he cannot establish the best system of laws he will endeavor to establish the est that the people can bear p 273 the mind was in the last resort the Empire of the Imagination p 280Philosophy's roots Smith suggested lay in the psychological need to explain the unexpected to soothe imagination and to restore the mind to a state of cognitive order and tranuility p 283


  5. Cristofer Cristofer says:

    Although I must admit that I lack just too much knowledge about Adam's Smith life and his other mayor work The Theory of Moral Sentiments I did get the impression of understanding a little bit about Adam Smith's life and ideas I cannot deny that this book had a lot of research but at times it seems that it may had not been enough However I cannot deny what was said several times during the book Adam Smith was a very private person The fact that he burned most of his unfinished writings just seems to confirm this fact No author is to be blamed and their efforts should be considered A very notorious thing that may come to the reader's mind is the following the book may at times center itself too much on other people and even places or circumstances This is not a bad thing This book may give you a good idea of what the world was like for Adam Smith and those around him during the time of his life After reading this book I'll venture to say you'll think you know Adam Smith a little bit better and it may even surprise you My mayor critiue about this book is the at times poor chronology of events While the chapters are made to fit the chronology of his life the author will mention things that happened after the years in which the chapter is centered This may not disrupt you too much but could certainly have been improved That said it is not a big problem This book involved a lot of research and I am sure it reuired a lot of work This is a book I would recommend to others however I would also recommend you to read at the very least either the Theory of Moral Sentiments or as I did An Inuiry Into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations This latter is a book I wholeheartedly recommend


  6. Mark Mark says:

    Though his name looms large as the founder of modern economic theory Adam Smith himself is in many ways a mysterious and unknowable figure Faced with the challenge of writing a biography of a man who left only a little correspondence and only two books Nicholas Phillipson provides a broader portrait of Adam Smith's intellectual world In doing so he sites Smith firmly within the context of the Scottish Enlightenment showing how he took the explorations of his teachers and colleagues most notably his close friend David Hume and used them to produce two of the seminal books of Western thought By adopting this approach Phillipson challenges the image of Smith as an absent minded academic and turns him instead into a dynamic teacher who was in contact with many of the leading intellectual and political lights of his day With his persuasive reinterpretation and and readable style Phillipson has produced what is likely to be the best account of Smith's life and times for decades to come and an essential read for anyone interested in learning about the origins and development of the ideas we still discuss today


  7. Frank Frank says:

    I have to say that not only is this one of the better biographies that I have read and one of the few books that I couldn’t put down It is well written and obviously well researched Though the biography itself is only 284 pages long if you ignore the notes and sources bibliography and index I was left with the impression that I knew everything there was to know about him Not only is the subject’s life covered but that of the times he lived in as well As one would expect since Adam Smith had only two books published in his lifetime the circumstances involved in having them both published and at least one revised to a fifth and final edition are dealt with to some degree I haven’t read any other biographies of Adam Smith and I don’t know if any others exist but I do believe that this may be the best available for now It is my opinion that if this bio is the only one available you will not be disappointed I cannot recommend it too highly It is well worth spending the time to read


  8. Dr. Tim Dr. Tim says:

    A masterful and extensively researched book which acts as a great introduction to literature of the enlightenment Some have accused the book of being overtly esoteric and thus inaccesible to those who are not schooled in the Age of Enlightenment or general 18th century philosophy For my part I would propound that it is rather than esoteric intelligently written and if anything likely to inspire any reader to further investigate the morally complex philosophically challenging and intellectually profound matters that are discussed within Though officially a political economist by trade the dialogue and debate that Smith puts forward along with that of his contemporary and friend David Hume clearly identifies him as a great thinker moral philosopher and worthy spokesperson for the age of enlightenment A superb read about the life and work of a genuinely admirable man


  9. Rob Rob says:

    This was a fine contextualizing biography I agree with the author that Adam Smith's life and works cannot be understood except in the milieu of the Scottish Enlightenment and Epictetian stoical philosophy Adam Smith was not promoting the intrinsic value of selfish competition but was instead writing a prescription for enlightened rulers to mold the forces of capitalism to the greatest benefit of the largest proportion of mankind This was a part of Smith's larger project to describe a philosophy of human interactions and manners and to divorce Smith's works from that project for one's own sectarian ends is to willfully understand it and to cheapen the life's work of this most influential of philosophers


  10. !Tæmbuŝu !Tæmbuŝu says:

    KOBOBOOKSReviewed by The Independent The Washington Post Powell's Review a Day


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  • Hardcover
  • 345 pages
  • Adam Smith
  • Nicholas Phillipson
  • English
  • 03 November 2015
  • 9780713993967