Life and Times
Adam Smith was born in 1723 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Along with figures like his teacher Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746) and his friend David Hume (1711–76), Smith played an important part in a period of astonishing learning that became known as the Scottish Enlightenment, a period of remarkable intellectual and artistic achievement that occurred during the middle years of the eighteenth century (roughly 1740-1790).
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Resources by Theme
Learn more about Smith the man, the scholar, and the teacher, as well as his historical surroundings.
The Scottish Enlightenment reaffirmed our natural sociality while upholding the ideal of the individual. Learn more about Adam Smith and his contemporaries.
Smith held a chair in Moral Philosophy; his first published work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, is a testament to the origins of his exploration into what makes man tick.
While Smith is often named as the “father of economics,” the discipline we know today in many ways bore little relation to Smith's line of study. Explore its origins today.
Arts & Culture
Adam Smith engaged in more than university life. The influence of the larger culture around him can be seen in many of his lectures and essays.
An Animal That Trades
A five-part short video series on the life and contemporary relevance of Adam Smith.
The Invisible Hand
The invisible hand is one of Smith's most well-known turns of phrase, yet he uses it but once in each book. So what does it mean, and why does this concept remain important today?
The Free Market
"Man is an animal that bargains," said Smith. Our commercial interactions help us further our individual interests and civilize us at the same time. How is the free market necessary for Smith's "system of natural liberty?"
Division of Labor
Smith's discussions of the division of labor, while they might seem like common sense today, were radical in his time. Find out more, and consider its enduring relevance today.