300 Years of Adam Smith | Economy | By Ivan Alonso | Comment

300 Years of Adam Smith |  Economy |  By Ivan Alonso |  Comment

Next Monday, June 5, is the 300th anniversary of his birth Adam Smith, Kirkcaldy, the intellectual hero of this passage in Scotland. Smith first studied at the University of Glasgow and then went to Balliol College, Oxford. He returned to Glasgow as Professor of Logic and Moral Philosophy. He spent time in France, where he came into contact with thinkers such as Voltaire and d’Alembert, and the physical economists Quesnay and Turcot. There he also met Necker, Louis XVI’s finance minister.

Among his inner circle were Dr. Samuel Johnson, a lexicographer and literary critic; Edward Gibbon, historian of the Roman Empire; To Benjamin Franklin, his research assistant, and above all to the philosopher David Hume, the greatest of the great.

“The Wealth of Nations” is, of course, the most famous work of all. Smith; The reason why he is considered the father economy. But he was a respectable writer before his “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” where he speaks of the “impartial observer,” the attitude to adopt when judging one’s own conduct, and of sympathy, a naturally arising feeling. For one’s pleasure and another’s.

Smith He also wrote a collection of philosophical treatises on the history of astronomy, ancient physics, and logic and metaphysics; another on the five senses; Another is in imitative arts like painting and sculpture. His courses on Rhetoric and the Fine Arts and Jurisprudence and Government have also been published, where some of the ideas of his major work are outlined.

From the “wealth of nations”, the idea of ​​the “invisible hand” is very popular, whereby a person focuses on the pursuit of his own well-being, without purpose, contributing to well-being. Others; Your customers, for example, who need to offer products that meet their tastes and needs at prices they can afford. But the most important idea, the idea that makes possible the miracle of the invisible hand, is the idea of ​​natural freedom.

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A system of natural liberty, he calls it Smith, “the transparent and simple system of natural liberty,” which allows anyone to enter the market in competition with others, puts their labor and capital at the service of the public. Other systems in which the government attempts, through special incentives or restrictions, to induce people to enter and stay or abandon an activity tend to retard rather than accelerate the progress of a nation.

These systems, which we today commonly call “mercantilist,” typically direct a good portion of labor and capital toward activities that create more value for society, diverting from others, attractive activities with government incentives.

Adam Smith He died in 1790. After his death he ordered all his papers and unfinished works to be burned. He is buried in the Canongate Presbyterian Cemetery on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. On Monday, you can quietly sing “Auld Lang Syne” if you like.

*El Comercio opens its pages to the exchange of ideas and reflections. In this pluralistic structure, the newspaper disagrees with the opinions of the signing writers, although it always respects them.


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