Monday, August 22, 2011

An Enlightend Life

Almost a year ago, I linked to a review of Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life by Nicholas Phillipson. Twice more I linked to other reviews and even added it to my carousel at left as a result of the reviews. I received a copy and added the book to my “to be read” pile – and moved it up as a result of some of the reviews. I finally got to the book this month. I’m only sorry to say I didn’t get to it sooner.

While I’ve read many good biographies of Smith, this one stands near the top.  I don’t say that because it revealed some interesting piece of trivia previously hidden.  Rather my statement is based on the intellectual ground that is covered. This book reveals Smith’s intellectual foundations. It covers familiar ground about Smith’s debt to Hume and the French philosophers and economistes. But it also makes clear Smith’s grounding in his geography and time. Glasgow and Edinburgh had an effect on his world view, politics of England and Scotland social and intellectual climate in which he was raised. As such, much of his work takes on new meaning.

If you would acquaint yourself with the foundation of economics and the mind that helped shape it, I encourage you to consider this book. While not a beach read (it’s getting late for that anyway) the length is not daunting. And if, like me, you like to mark significant passages, you may find yourself stopping frequently to do so.  For this volume offers much to think about and much to learn. Please share your thoughts.

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