The biography of Adam Smith, a Scottish philosopher, economist, and author widely regarded as the father of modern economics.
He was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, on June 5, 1723, and died in Edinburgh, Scotland, on July 17, 1790.
His magnum opus, “The Wealth of Nations,” is one of the most important works in the history of economics, and it remains influential today.
In this biography, we will explore the life of Adam Smith and his contributions to economics and philosophy.
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Early Life and Education of Adam Smith
Adam Smith was born to Margaret Douglas and her husband, also named Adam Smith, a lawyer and comptroller of customs.
His father passed away before birth, and his mother raised him.
Smith attended the University of Glasgow at 14 and later went to Balliol College, Oxford.
He was an avid philosophy student, and his readings of Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and other Scottish Enlightenment thinkers influenced his thinking.
After completing his studies, Smith returned to Scotland, where he lectured at the University of Glasgow.
In 1751, he appointed the Chair of Logic at the university. Two years later, he became the Chair of Moral Philosophy, a position he held until 1764.
During this time, he developed many of his ideas on economics and wrote “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” a treatise on ethics and human nature.
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The Wealth of Nations
In 1776, Smith published his most famous work, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” commonly called “The Wealth of Nations.”
The book is a seminal work in the history of economics and remains one of the most influential books ever written.
In it, Smith argues that its economy’s productivity and efficiency determine a nation’s wealth.
He also introduces the idea of the invisible hand, suggesting that markets tend to regulate themselves without government intervention.
Smith’s views on economics were groundbreaking for their time and continue to be relevant today.
He believed that free trade and competition were essential for economic growth and that government intervention should be minimal.
He also argued that the division of labour was crucial for economic efficiency and that specialization would lead to higher productivity and lower costs.
Later Life and Legacy of Adam Smith
After publishing “The Wealth of Nations,” Smith continued to work as a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow.
He also became involved in politics, serving as a commissioner of customs in Scotland from 1778 to 1784.
In 1787, he was appointed Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow.
Adam Smith’s contributions to economics and philosophy have profoundly impacted the world.
His ideas on free trade, competition, and the invisible hand have influenced economic policy in countries worldwide.
His work has also significantly impacted the development of capitalism and the modern industrial economy.
Smith’s legacy has been celebrated in various ways. His portrait appears on the British £20 note, and the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think tank, was established in his honour.
His work continues to be studied and debated by economists and philosophers, and his ideas remain relevant today.
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Adam Smith was one of the most influential thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, and his contributions to economics and philosophy have had a lasting impact on the world.
His ideas on free trade, competition, and the invisible hand continue to influence economic policy in countries worldwide, and his work remains relevant today.
As we grapple with globalization, economic inequality, and technological change, Adam Smith’s ideas provide a valuable framework for understanding and addressing these issues.