Smith was the Scottish philosopher who became famous for his book, “The Wealth of Nations” written in 1776, which had a profound influence on modern economics and concepts of individual freedom. In 1751, Smith was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow university, transferring in 1752 to the chair of moral philosophy. Smith moved to London in 1776, where he published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which examined in detail the consequences of economic freedom. “Wealth of Nations” established economics as an autonomous subject and launched the economic doctrine of free enterprise. Smith laid the intellectual framework that explained the free market and still holds true today. To underscore his laissez-faire convictions, Smith argued that state and personal efforts, to promote social good are ineffectual compared to unbridled market forces. At the end it was discovered that Smith had devoted a considerable part of his income to numerous secret acts of charity. The Wealth of Nations, first published in 1776, is Smith’s classic treaties on economic liberalism. Purchase this hardcover edition of Essential Adam Smith. The United States founding fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin, turned to the ideas of Adam Smith to create an economic system for America with both immediate and long-sustained results. Purchase this hardcover edition of Adam Smith and the Origins of American Enterprise. A great little primer on Adam Smith’s philosophy and thinking for students of Smith or basic ecomomics.
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How did the Reformation Contribute to the Shaping of the Modern World
Like the Renaissance, the Reformation drew its inspiration from the ancient world. Renaissance humanists and artists sought to imitate and revive classical art and literary forms; Reformation thinkers aspired to restore the spiritual purity of early Christianity, before the growth of a powerful clergy and a dogmatic theology. They used the Gospels in order to undermine the authority of the Church. By dividing Christendom into Catholic and Protestant, the Reformation destroyed the religious unity of Europe. The distinguishing feature of the Middle Ages, and weakened the Church, the chief institution of medieval society. By strengthening monarchs at the expense of church bodies, the Reformation furthered the growth of the modern secular and centralized state. While absolute monarchy was the immediate beneficiary of the Reformation, indirectly Protestantism contributed to the growth of political liberty another feature of the modern West. Protestantism accomplished this by providing religious justification for revolution against tyrannical rule. There was a spiritual equality of all believers: all were equally Christian; all were equally priests. The Reformation contributed to the creation of an individualistic ethic. Piety was not determined by the Church, but by the autonomous individual, whose conscience, illuminated by God, was the source of judgment and authority. The Reformations stress on individual conscience may have contributed to the development of the capitalist spirit, which underlies modern economic life.
JOHN LOCKE. John Locke was one of the most important and influential philosophers ever. John Locke was born in 1632 into a well-to-do Somerset family. In 1666, John Locke met Anthony Ashley Cooper Locke treated Shaftesbury for an abscess in the liver, joined his household, and the two men became good friends. In 1667, John Locke wrote an Essay On Toleration in which he argued that Protestant Dissenters who objected to some aspects of Anglican worship should have full civil rights. Charles II agreed with Shaftesbury and Locke on the advantages of tolerating Protestant Dissent, but he was also wiling to excuse the Roman Catholic sympathies of his brother, James. The Whigs failed to prevent James’ accession, and first Shaftesbury and then Locke were forced to flee to the Netherlands. Locke devoted much of his time to writing on philosophy and political thought. John Locke rejected Filmer’s equation of paternal and political power. In their natural state, Locke insisted, all adults were equal; each individual was subject to no one but God. The Glorious Revolution was welcomed in England, and John Locke’s Two Treatises were frequently reprinted. Locke extended certain general rights of property to all people, although property in land and other major assets was restricted to a minority. Locke did not believe that the state should redistribute property to the poor.