Showing posts with label Adam Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adam Smith. Show all posts

Thursday 29 June 2023

Adam Smith’s Legacies and Wellbeing

This year is the 300 year anniversary of the birth of one of Scotland’s greatest thinker. Only in 2008, a statue was erected to this genius and great Scot, Royal Mile, near St Giles. Worldwide every economist, business and politician has relied on Smith’s pioneering science of political economy and almost every major economist has quoted Smith – terms such as the free market and danger of monopolies.


We must also turn more to Smith’s first book his ‘Theory of Moral Sentiment’ – which is equal in every way to his ‘Wealth of Nations’ - “ No society, can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”


**BUT he was crucially and equally a moral philosopher. 

Smith advocated the free market and drive of merchants, but …..equally balance by concern for all of moral standards. He believed any new law required careful and long considerations.


He believed self-interest should be balanced with concern for the common good – with virtue and ethical – as part of a whole.

“Over the years Smith’s lustre as a social philosopher have been less attended to.”


“Smith’s philosophical, historical and economic work as part of a single whole, and the psychological drives which support man’s desire to better his condition.” Andrew skinner writes (Adam Smith professor of political economy, Glasgow 1994-2020)

Moral philosophy was based on what we would know as psychology. He believed individual self-interest should be balanced with concern for the common good, emphasising the importance of virtue and ethics in society.



Age 14 Smith studied at Glasgow university under professor of moral philosophy Francis Hutchison (one of the founders of the Scottish enlightenment). After he won a scholarship to Balliol college oxford (Snell exhibition scholarship of future clergy of Scottish episcopal church). He considered the standard of tuition at Oxford inferior to Glasgow and educated himself. ‘the greater part of the public professors have given up pretence of teaching. At 27 he took up a post as professor of Logic Glasgow.


Then he was Chair of Moral philosophy , where he met David Hume and James Watt. In 1764, he became tutor to the young Duke of Buccleuch – with travels in Europe, met Voltaire in Paris and wrote the Wealth of Nations.

“Smith is the very epitome of the enlightenment, hopeful but realistic, speculative but practical; always respectful of the classical and past, but ultimately dedicated to the great discovery of his age – progress.”
 Encyclopaedia Britannica


“Over the years Smith’s lustre as a social philosopher have been less attended to.”

Saturday 22 December 2018

Scottish Collaborations: Medici Intersection

In Edina at the Mercat Cross, the great and good gathered -  from all walks of life and it was a great melting pot of ideas. They met near William Creech’s publishing house, in the time of great men such a David Hume, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Robert Burns, Alexander Nasmyth, and many others. 

During the renaissance the Medici family provided opportunities for people from different disciplines – artists, writers, scientists, engineers, natural philosophies – to all come together, in a space where they could work together to solve problems. All the labs in England and Wales are commercially driven and are completely privatised. Whereas in Scotland we have  a more cohesive organisation, not driven commercially.”
‘its partly our philosophy of working together, which comes out of the Scottish enlightenment. The enlightenment here emerged in a different way than it did in England and Wales and France and elsewhere, because instead of just having scientists and natural philosophers working together to solve problems we also had artists and writers and poets and we brought them all together in some sort of a rammy.” Forensic scientists Dundee centre, on their multi disciplinary approach. "  
Namh Nic Daeid, Dorector Forensic centre Dundee

Medici intersection

Saturday 23 September 2017

**Edinburgh Enlightenment

For centuries Scotland had kept close and political links to Europe and continued.  
Frances Hutcheson, David Hume and Adam Fergusson were part of the community of European scholars – connected to Diderot, Goethe, Montesquieu and Voltaire. In Scotland the most literate nation in Europe in 1750.

Voltaire said, “We look to Scotland” – does Scotland still have this clout? 
Voices against slavery. Scotland owned a third of Jamaica in the 18th century.

The Advocates Library – production of genius and learning, enabled her sons to make distinguished figures.

Adam Smith supported the fight for independence in American colonies and saw slavery as uneconomic and immoral. He questioned the meaning of freedom in society.

David Hume saw slavery as ‘cruel and oppressive.’ The dominant statue on the Royal mile is of David Hume (1711 – 1766) Philosopher and historian; Scot and European. Man of the Enlightenment. He rented his home James Court to James Boswell, critic, writer and biographer of Samuel Johnson.

Hugh Blair (St Giles 1758 – 1777) supported Burns and the Ossian poems. Burns’s The Slaves Lament.
William Robertson preached against and sent his sermons to William Wilberforce 1788.
William Creech – Bookseller, Publisher, councillor and secretary of chamber of commerce.
He petitioned Parliament to ban slavery.

 (The Skating minister – Scottish National galleries)
Henry Raeburn’s painting of his friend the Reverend Robert Walker skating on a hard winter’s day more than two centuries ago is one of a select number of paintings, like Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or Munch’s The Scream, which is immediately recognisable.