Adam Smith was one of the most important seminal social philosophers of modern times. Although his great masterpiece - the Wealth at Nations - is most frequently associated with the field of ecomics, it has exer- cised a profound and abiding influence t only in that but in all areas of social theory and practice as well. In view of this it is t a little puzzling that after nearly two centuries there does t exist a single reliable account of the full range of his social philosophy. The circumstances which have contributed to this void in the literature are easily identified. All who are at all familiar with Smith's life and writings recognize that he was a philosopher by profession and that all his writings were conceived and executed as works of philosophy. During his lifetime his work was viewed iIi that perspective. At about the time of his death in 1790, however, Smith's work was eclipsed in the field of philosophy by Hume and Reid in Great Britain and Kant on the conti- nent. Thereafter the interpretation of his writings was taken up by those who were profoundly interested in only one aspect of his work, viz. , his political ecomy. In the process of explicating that feature of his thought the social philosophy upon which his political ecomy was based and of which it was but one application was at first igred and then represented as rather simplistic.
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Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Idees Minor