“The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation.”
He could almost have been writing about his own works. Yet this one quote perfectly encapsulates why Adam Smith is, to this day, held in such high esteem. In writings such as An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments he laid the foundations for not only economic theory but also globalisation itself.
Born and raised in the Scottish east coast town of Kirkcaldy in 1723, he studied logic, physics and philosophy at Glasgow University. After a period of further study at Balliol College, Oxford, Smith returned to Scotland and spent much of the next fifteen years teaching.
Appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at his alma mater in Glasgow, he published his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in 1759. In it, Smith argued that an individual’s moral principles have a social empathy at their core and that issues of virtue, trust and reputation underlie the dealings of individuals and markets.
Wealth of knowledge
Smith challenged the stifling mercantile orthodoxies of the day and in his most famous work, ...the Wealth of Nations, he effectively created a blueprint for the way much of the world does business, with competitive economies built on free trade, limited government, low taxes, saving and investment. Only five chapters long, it introduced concepts such as the division of labour, individual enterprise, a common international currency and, what today is known as, a market-led economy.
With Panmure House, we aim to show just how pioneering his work was and the central role it played in the intellectually radical Scottish Enlightenment which swept the continent during the 18th century - and beyond - encompassing philosophy, the arts and the sciences.