Nicholas Phillipson: Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life
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Adam Smith, one of the greatest figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, is the subject of a superb new intellectual biography by Nicholas Phillipson. Phillipson is an eminent intellectual historian: he is an Honorary Research Fellow in History at the University of Edinburgh, founding editor of Modern Intellectual History, associate editor of The New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a past president of The Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society.
Phillipson starts with a brief overview of Smith’s boyhood in Kirkcaldy, a small port city on the Firth of Forth, from his birth in 1723, through his schooling at the local high school. We get a clear picture of his schooling at the local school headed by an excellent master (David Miller), as well as his family background, noting his very close mutually supportive relationship with his mother, Margaret Smith, and his general family background of minor gentry.
In particular, Phillipson suggests that Smith’s early reading of Greek...