When Adam Smith died in 1790, according to the Memorials of Lord Cockburn, ‘the middle aged seemed to me to know little about the founder of the science, except that he had recently been a Commissioner of Customs, and had written a sensible book.’ By ‘a sensible book’, Cockburn certainly meant the Wealth of Nations. Since then Smith’s name has been appearing continuously in the works on the history of economic thought, of course as the author of the Wealth of Nations. The German discussions on the Adam Smith problem in the 1860s and 1870s and Cannan’s discovery of the student’s notes of the ‘Lectures on Jurisprudence’ did not change the situation to any considerable extent. For example, in August Oncken’s Adam Smith und Immanuel Kant (1877), the Moral Sentiments was discussed only in Chapter VI, and Albion Small in his Adam Smith and Modern Sociology (1907) ignored the Moral Sentiments completely. Perhaps the first attempt at the analysis of Smith’s thought in its entirety may be seen in Roy Pascal’s article in the Modern Quarterly (1938). Although he also ignored the Moral Sentiments, his intention to prove the progressive character of the Scottish Historical School in contrast with the reactionary character of the German Historical School, especially under the Nazi regime, helped him to understand Smith in the light of the development of democratic and liberal ideas in the West.
KeywordsCommercial Society Moral Sentiment Historical School Nazi Regime Reactionary Character
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