Adam Smith and the Reasoning Behind his Thoughts on the Wealth of Nations

1616 Words 7 Pages
The power of reasoning allows limitless inquiry into the nature of all things. Adam Smith an “enlightened” thinker utilizes reasoning to examine the wealth of nations, but in acting on this reasoning is he forcing his own sentiments into his argument, or is the reasoning creating the sentiments? Smith offers an exposition for his vision of a laissez faire economy, that is, capitalism in the modern sense. In a wider scope, Smith's account reveals his views on the nature of the human condition, and not a single theme is surveyed without an observation being made upon human tendencies and decisions. Arguably, these observations are shaped by his own sentiments. Smith makes about three claims about human nature. Primarily, Smith assumes …show more content…
More so Smith is suggesting that human reason is the catalyst for trade. The ability to reason is the singular factor that allows for the development of a free market system.
The divisions of labor must be controlled by a rational actor; such notions are arguably the mechanisms’ of “self love” acts as an actor which drives the capitalist machinery. The example of the pin maker illustrates this point. Lastly, Smith instills “a certain propensity in human nature; the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.” This, he suggests, may simply be an extension of reason. It is this final, and most specific, penchant of human nature that ensures a vague sense of self interest, coupled with reason and speech; produce a very particular kind of capitalist economic system, which he describes in the rest of the book. In speaking about labor, Smith characterizes it in a negative light. He observes the division of labor as positive to production and competition, but in the social sense sees it as a dummying of the masses. “The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations… has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally
Open Document