Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations has an influence rivaled only by that other famous publication of 1776. But even as he revolutionized the study of economics and society, its author remains an enigma. In a widely praised new biography, Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, Nicholas Phillipson shows the extent to which The Wealth of Nations and Smith’s other great work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, were part of a larger scheme to establish a grand “Science of Man.” One of the most ambitious projects of the European Enlightenment, it was to encompass law, history and aesthetics as well as economics and ethics.
Phillipson reconstructs Smith’s intellectual ancestry and formation, of which he gives a radically new and convincing account. At this Cato Book Forum, Phillipson will discuss Smith’s life and thought. The event also features comments from James R. Otteson, author of Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life.