Kirkcaldy, Scotland, June 5, 1723-Edinburgh, Scotland, July 17, 1790
Adam Smith was a moral and political philosopher who made important contributions to the economy and laid the foundations of modern capitalism. His most famous work is The Wealth of Nations.
He studied moral philosophy at Glasgow University and after graduation he devoted himself to deliver a series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh, where he began to acquire a reputation and met the economist and philosopher David Hume, with whom he formed an intellectual circle that had members such as John Home, William Robertson and Lord Hailes among others.
In 1751 he was appointed professor of logic at the University of Glasgow and a year later he began teaching moral philosophy at the same institution. His first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments was published in 1759, and in it, he addressed the dependence of human morality with sympathy between individuals and society.
From 1763 he served as tutor for the stepson of the noble Charles Townshend, the Duke of Buccleuch. This position allowed him to travel to France, where he met with other Enlightenment thinkers like Benjamin Franklin, François “Voltaire”, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Turgot and François Quesnay.
His masterpiece, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, was published in 1776. This book marked the base of the first economic system and is considered the first work devoted to the study of political economy. From his pen he constructed arguments for an economic system based on self-interest and suggested that the wealth of a country should be measured based on its total production and trade. According to Smith, the competition is the path to economic success.
Although it was a controversial book in its day, today The Wealth of Nations is a basic work for economists and Adam Smith is one of the most important figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. He is known as the “Father of Modern Economics”.