To THOMAS CADELL
Address: Mr Cadell
MS., Pierpont Morgan Libr., New York; Scott 299.
Edinburgh, 7 May 1786
This Letter will be delivered to you by my very intimate and particular friend Mr John Bruce. He has a work upon moral Philosophy1 which; tho’ he and I differ a little, as David Hume and I used to do; I expect will do him very great honour. It is as free of Metaphysics as is possible for any work upon that subject to be. Its fault, in my opinion, is that it is too free of them. But what is a fault to me, may very probably, be a recommendation to the Public. It is extremely well written; with simplicity and perspicuity everywhere, and in proper places with the warmth which becomes the subject. I most earnestly recommend it to your attention. I ever am Dear Sir
Most faithfully yours
[1 ]Elements of the Science of Ethics on the Principles of Natural Philosophy (London, 1786).
Adam Smith (1723-1790) is commonly regarded as the first modern economist with the publication in 1776 of The Wealth of Nations. He wrote in a wide range of disciplines: moral philosophy, jurisprudence, rhetoric and literature, and the history of science. He was one of the leading figures in the Scottish Enlightenment. Smith also studied the social forces giving rise to competition, trade, and markets. While professor of logic, and later professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow University, he also had the opportunity to travel to France, where he met François Quesnay and the physiocrats; he had friends in business and the government, and drew broadly on his observations of life as well as careful statistical work summarizing his findings in tabular form. He is viewed as the founder of modern economic thought, and his work inspires economists to this day. The economic phrase for which he is most famous, the “invisible hand” of economic incentives, was only one of his many contributions to the modern-day teaching of economics.