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Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life [Kindle Edition]

Nicholas Phillipson

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Phillipson has produced a remarkable and often brilliant intellectual biography ... stuffed with acute philosophical observations ... [His] exposition of Smith's "enlightened life" could scarcely be bettered (Oliver Kamm The Times )


Adam Smith is celebrated all over the world as the author of The Wealth of Nations and the founder of modern economics. A few of his ideas - that of the 'Invisible Hand' of the market and that 'It 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' - have become icons of the modern world. Yet Smith saw himself primarily as a philosopher rather than an economist, and would never have predicted that the ideas for which he is now best known were his most important. This book, by one of the leading scholars of the Scottish Enlightenment, shows the extent to which The Wealth of Nations and Smith's other great work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, were part of a larger scheme to establish a grand 'Science of Man', one of the most ambitious projects of the European Enlightenment, which was to encompass law, history and aesthetics as well as economics and ethics.

Nicholas Phillipson reconstructs Smith's intellectual ancestry and formation, of which he gives a radically new and convincing account. He shows what Smith took from, and what he gave to, the rapidly changing and subtly different intellectual and commercial cultures of Glasgow and Edinburgh as they entered the great years of the Scottish Enlightenment. Above all he explains how far Smith's ideas developed in dialogue with those of his closest friend, the other titan of the age, David Hume. This superb biography is now the one book which anyone interested in the founder of economics must read.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 36538 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 358 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0300177674
  • Verlag: Penguin (15. Juli 2010)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B003VTZRR8
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Erweiterte Schriftfunktion: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #399.970 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.9 von 5 Sternen  22 Rezensionen
33 von 36 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Visable Hand 19. September 2010
Von Christian Schlect - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
A solidly written biography of one known by most of us only as the Scottish author of an unread great book. Professor Phillipson's fine effort should lead many to go back and read "The Wealth of Nations."

Adam Smith's thoughts still have direct relevance to today's bucketful of economic problems--and resulting strident political debates--over government's proper role in terms of expenditures, debt, taxation, and business regulations.

While this book concentrates on the scholarship of Adam Smith, the author also intelligently traces the era within which Smith lived and his private life that included such striking people as David Hume, James Boswell, and Voltaire.

In this current age of instant and empty celebrities, Smith still stands, after about 250 years, as a man worth knowing.
20 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen "The Elusive Invisible Hand Comes Alive Again". 5. Oktober 2010
Von M. Mariba - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a great, thoughtful & engaging biography on the elusive Scottish academic & philosopher, Adam Smith, titled "Adam Smith : An Enlightened Life" by professor Nicholas Phillipson. Adam Smith is well known for his description of the market's/capitalism's "invisible hand" that guides the economy, keeping 'everything' under control. But there is more to this elusive philosophical man than meets the eye : he was a private man, a hypochondriac who lived with his widowed mother most of his life. His popular lectures at the University of Glasgow turned Adam Smith into an 'institutional figure of note'. He wrote two great influencial books, "The Wealth Of The Nations" which took him 10 years to write on colonial America & the philosophical, "The Theory Of Moral Sentiments". By drawing from his published works & lecture notes, his thinking on social theory & ethics influenced his theory of economics & human behaviour.

Adam Smith instructed his executors to destroy all his lecture notes, but seven upublished philosophical essays & 193 letters survived to give us a glimpse of this elusive Scottish academic & philosopher, making the market's "invisible hand" come alive again, even if it's only at an intellectual level. This is a highly recommended reading on the 18th century's influential philosopher & academic that is Adam Smith.
15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An Important Contribution to Our Understanding of Smith 9. November 2010
Von EPCIII - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I have read five book-length biographies of Adam Smith and concluded that the one by Ian Simpson Ross was definitive. I purchased the latest by Nicholas Phillipson because of his reputation rather than an expectation to learn much that is new. Reading it has proven that labeling a work as definitive does not mean it is the final word on the subject. Quite the contrary, Phillipson's work is aptly titled: Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, as it traces the development of Smith's thought in the milieu of the Scottish Enlightenment and British geopolitics during the second half of the eighteenth century. What was especially enjoyable was to learn more about the great debt Smith owed Hume as an intellect in shaping his works and as a friend. Phillipson expresses puzzlement about why Smith may not have held up his end of the friendship. After reading E. C. Mossner's The Life of David Hume and the Smith biographies, it seems clear Smith was too prudent to do so. If given a change, this reviewer would rather have kept the company of Hume than Smith.
Yale has done justice to this wonderful work. The production is a delight to see and to hold. It provides the best answer to e-books because we buyers will surely enjoying pulling it from our shelves, looking at the illustrations, and reading it again.
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Read this book AFTER reading Smith's two masterworks. 11. April 2011
Von Robert T. Muir - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I was hoping for a general overview of the political, social, and geographic climate that Smith lived in as well as some analysis of the influences in his work. Unfortunately, this book is far too scholarly for the general reader. Unless you grew up in the British school system, you'll need to brush up on Scottish/English history and keep Wikipedia handy to have any chance of understanding what's going on.

The book assumes the reader already has a thorough understanding of "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" and "The Wealth of Nations". If you don't, you'll very quickly become lost and start skimming paragraphs or finish reading a page and not remember a single thing that was discussed.

I may return to this tome after reading TWoN and TToMS; we'll see.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The intellectual world of Adam Smith 18. Dezember 2011
Von MarkK - Veröffentlicht auf
Though his name looms large as the founder of modern economic theory, Adam Smith himself is in many ways a mysterious and unknowable figure. For all of his impact upon Western thought, Smith left little beyond the two books that were his great intellectual legacy. Not even the date of his birth is known with certainty, while his correspondence consists mainly of letters from friends plaintively wondering why he never wrote back. Nicholas Phillipson doesn't shirk from the challenge of writing a biography of the man from such a scarcity of information, but in filling the blanks he provides something more by giving his readers a broader portrait of Adam Smith's intellectual world, one that sites Smith firmly within the context of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Phillipson begins by charting the formative influences that shaped Smith's intellectual development in his early years. Foremost among them was his schoolmaster in Kirkcaldy and two professors at the University of Glasgow, Robert Simson and Francis Hutcheson. Yet it was the writings of Smith's close friend David Hume which proved the most fertile inspiration for Smith's masterpieces. Phillipson shows how Smith drew upon Hume's ideas as inspiration for a comprehensive "Science of Man", which be began to articulate with his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Its publication in 1759 was greeted with acclaim, elevating Smith to the first rank of intellectual figures. A period as tutor of the young Duke of Buccleuch gave him both the opportunity to meet some of the leading figures of the Enlightenment in Europe as well as an income that freed him from his onerous academic duties. This allowed Smith upon his return to concentrate on writing his most famous book, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, a revolutionary text that was nonetheless intended to be only one part of his much larger project - a project that was left incomplete by the time of his death in 1790.

With his persuasive reinterpretation and readable style, Phillipson has produced what is likely to be the best study of Smith's life and times for decades to come. His account challenges the traditional image of Smith as an absent-minded academic and turns him instead into a dynamic teacher who was a part of the vibrant intellectual world of the 18th century. The book's main flaw - an absence of any real examination of Smith's personality and daily life - is understandable given the limits of his material, but it does limit his achievement by failing to give a fully rounded portrait of the philosopher as a person. Nevertheless, this book is an essential read for anyone seeking to understand Smith ideas and their development within the context of the era, ideas that still are used to inform the world in which we live today.
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