The Social Physics of Adam Smith

Available Formats for this title

Hardback
07/08/1976
$11.95

About this title

Purdue University Press
1976
Professional & Scholarly

Description

Important aspects of the thought of Adam Smith appear to have been consciously and methodically, yet tacitly, modeled on a system of physical, biological, and social evolution which he found in the writings of the ancients - such is the hypothesis of this book.

 

Fascinated by the vortex theory, the view of early Greek physicists that the celestial bodies  appear to travel around the earth because it lies at the center of a vast whirlpool, Smith saw how it could cover the origin of the universe and the conditions of its day-to-day stability, and how it had been extended by teh Greeks into other fields of science.

 

This book argues that Smith saw such parallels between this ancient system and the economic issues of his time as an analogue between Plato's belief that the vortex spin produced a separation or division of the four elements and Smith's own central principle of separation, the division of labor.  The vortex theory also called for the free circulation of matter and motion in nature, which finds a counterpart in Smith's laissez faire doctrine, with money, goods, and labor flowing freely through the spiraling channels of the society's economic system.

 

This study breaks new ground in tracing the antecedents of Smith's system and the methods used in framing it.  Smith's ideas of how his social science forms a corollary to this ancient natural science and of how natural law influences the course of human affairs will interest economists and historians of ideas, as well as students of the development of our current problems involving mankind's relationship to nature.