Adam Smith

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Name: Adam Smith

Place of birth: Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland

Place of death: Edinburgh, Scotland

Date of birth and death: 1723-1790


Adam Smith was born in a small village in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, where his widowed mother raised him. At age fourteen, as was the usual practice, he entered the University of Glasgow on scholarship. He later attended Balliol College at Oxford, graduating with an extensive knowledge of European literature and an enduring contempt for English schools.

In 1748, Adam Smith began giving a series of public lectures at the University of Edinburgh. Through these lectures, in 1750 he met and became lifelong friends with Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume. This relationship led to Smith's appointment to the Glasgow University faculty in 1751.

In 1759 Smith published The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a book whose main contention is that human morality depends on sympathy between the individual and other members of society.

Adam Smith travelled to Paris, Geneva and Toulouse, meeting with leading thinkers of the Age of Reason, including D'Alembert, Turgot, Mirabeau and Voltaire.

Adam Smith never married. He died in Edinburgh on July 19, 1790.

Main contribution to the Enlightenment

In 1776 Smith published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (usually shortened to The Wealth of Nations), which is thought of as the first work dedicated to the study of political economy. Economics of the time were dominated by the idea that a country's wealth was best measured by its store of gold and silver. Smith proposed that a nation's wealth should be judged not by this metric but by the total of its production and commerce-today known as gross national product (GDP). He also explored theories of the division of labor, an idea dating back to Plato,