Book Review: Das Capitalist

From “The American Conservative” comes a review of a new biography of Adam Smith. Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, Nicholas Phillipson, Yale, 346 pages

By George Scialabba

In the “Overture” to his grandly symphonic The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, Peter Gay describes the “international type” of thephilosophe as a “facile, articulate, doctrinaire, sociable, secular man of letters.” On this definition, was Adam Smith a philosophe? Yes and no. Unlike his French counterparts and even his bosom friend David Hume, he led a retired life, much of it in the small Scottish town where he was born, and he lived with his mother until she died at a very advanced age. He was shy, destroyed most of his letters, and did not seem to relish giving brilliant performances, either in print or in conversation. He never fell afoul of civil or religious authority, had no mistresses, and engaged in no public quarrels. (Read Further)

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