Life and Times
Explore the life and ideas of Adam Smith and how his insightful contributions apply to our world today.
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Beauty and Language in Adam Smith with Zaccheus Harmon
The 18th century is generally cited as the birthplace of modern aesthetic thought. Whatever the veracity of this claim, there is little doubt that aesthetic topics were central to the intellectual projects of Enlightenment in a way that was unprecedented in the immediately preceding centuries. Philosophers and critics writing during this period addressed themselves to a variety of aesthetic questions: What is the nature of taste? How are aesthetic judgments made and what justifies such judgments? What is the nature of the beautiful and how does it relate to other aesthetic qualities, such as the sublime or the picturesque? What is the nature of artistic representation and how does it relate to the beauty of the natural world?
Resources by Theme
Learn more about Smith the man, the scholar, and the teacher, as well as his historical surroundings. Read original essays, excerpts from Smith's work, and more.
Adam Smith is one of the luminaries of a larger movement known as the Scottish Enlightenment. The thinkers involved reaffirmed our natural sociality while upholding the ideal of the individual. Learn more about the Scottish Enlightenment and explore the contributions of Smith and his contemporaries.
Better known today as an economist, Smith never held that title during his lifetime. Smith held a chair in Moral Philosophy, and his first published work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, is a testament to the origins of his exploration into what makes man tick. Explore with Smith here.
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 the origins of the study of man's natural propensity to truck, barter, and exchange in this section.
1776 and the American Founding
In 1776, Adam Smith published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. It was also the year the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. Neither event occurred in a vacuum.