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Adam Smith- Economics

by: Carly Broadway

Adam Smith- Economics HUM 1324

Carly Broadway
Virginia Tech
GPA 3.2

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About this Document

Notes from in-class lecture on February 15th (week 5) on Adam Smith. It is a review of the textbook as well.
HUM: The Modern World
Van Bueren
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carly Broadway on Monday April 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HUM 1324 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by Van Bueren in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see HUM: The Modern World in Arts and Humanities at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Date Created: 04/18/16
Adam Smith Economics  Not well understood before Smith  Smith established and introduced an organization and understanding of economics  Lead to economic strife in Europe  Money not well understood (banks, currency, etc.)  (Money controlled by the rich and royalty)  Bettering society through economics  Part of “Scottish” Enlightenment th  17 century- France Enlightenment….. continued on to England o Empirical observation leading to development of theories David Hume  Friend of Adam Smith  Well known philosopher  Beginning of modern philosophy  Picked up by other philosophers in Germany and France  “You could understand the mind through empirical evidence” o Understanding the human mind  Human beings share common senses and from this idea you can extrapolate certain ideas  All thought into two groups o Impressions- mind becomes aware of some4ting in reality (voice to ears) o Ideas- mind comes up with something not based on the current reality (memory) o All ideas come back to impressions  Ex) you can’t give a death person an impression of a symphony just by giving them the idea of the symphony  AGAINST: Idealist philosophy o “I think, therefore I am” o Ideas are where we get all our thoughts Smith and Hume  Hume expresses jealousy towards Smith when Wealth of Nations became successful  Smith took ideas relative to the ideas and work of Hume Smith’s Life  Student at Oxford when he was 14  Europe – lectured and discussed his ideas  Back home to become a tutor In the World  Silver being exported to Spain and Americas?  Doubled amount of precious metals in Europe  Double/triple inflation rate  1830s? – increased to 2 - 3%  Borrow heavily from banks to cover debt to pay soldiers 2  Bankers assumed that they would get shipments of silver…….  People become destitute  A lot of silver flowing into China – o Would only trade for silver o Very valuable in China  Mercantilist held in high esteem by monarchs in Europe  Spanish Empire collapses  Smith is writing during the 18 century- commercial revolution Commercial Revolution  Trade becomes a GOOD thing  Allows countries to be at peace Theories Supported by Smith  Physiocracy  Theory that there are three parts to French economy o Farmers o Landlords o Manufacturers  Didn’t produce a surplus  Leached off of farmers  Creation of wealth by commerce o Unconscious proponent of peace and liberty among nations o Let things be and they will fall into place 3 o Restricting wealth from flowing out of the country was an old idea…. Opposition to Mercantilism  Zero sum game: o If one nation gains wealth, another nation has to lose wealth o At the time it was held in high regard as an economic theory o Nations would hoard wealth and prevent exports from happening  Smith reacted against o Didn’t hate aristocracy and upper class o Way to correct them would to replace the honor of the rich so that they would be more compelled to give to the poor o Mercantilism hurts everybody, not just the aristocracy harming the poor o Critical of heads of state (EX those in France) First Book  Empirical method used to look into human nature  Francis Hutcherson  Concept of understanding sympathy o To Smith this is putting yourself in another person’s position o Understanding of the rich in order to work with them and compel them to do things for the rest of society 4  Industrialists very interested to give to humanitarian causes o EX today: Bill Gates…. o Smith’s theory of moral sentiments Wealth of Nations  Economics and morality cannot be found separated  Put everything together in a full circle, appeal to all groups of people  Similar to Encyclopedia being developed at the same time  Human nature and how the mind works wrapped up in a single book  Accessibility- trying to write a book that can be widely understood  Five books included o Book 1: Division of labor  Pin example  Mass production collectively raised the standard of living  Pursuing interests: raising level of wealth Two Main Ideas:  Bartering o Propensity to trade one thing for another o Part of human nature  Desire to better our condition o Progress 5 o Before we better others’ conditions, we must better our own conditions o “selfishness”  Ties back to Hume saying all human beings have common senses Early Impact:  William Pitt  All luxury items and raw material imports had to come from England  England subscribed to the mercantilist system  Success, but not sensation  No immediate response from heads of state  Alexander Hamilton: o Projection of ideas from government as an experiment  After French revolution, a lot of Enlightenment ideas got twisted to fit political goals Mont/Chero bias in book **  Like Adam Smith 6


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