By Leonidas Montes (auth.)
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Extra resources for Adam Smith in Context: A Critical Reassessment of Some Central Components of His Thought
But he defended, under certain circumstances, free trade policies. Another interesting case to point out (as I have already mentioned Fichte) is the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) who in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1827–31) thought that ‘England’s material existence is based on trade and industry, and the English have taken on the major vocation of acting as missionaries of civilisation throughout the world’ (Hegel 1999 [1827–31], p. 222). In 1883 Karl Knies republished this book, with some minor additions, under the new title Die Politische Oekonomie vom Geschichtlichen Standpuncte (The Political Economy From the Historical Point of View).
Although the German context during the first half of the nineteenth century is extremely complex in its political and social dimensions, the shaping of the ‘Smith Problem’ can also be seen as the result of an intellectual context hostile to the British laissez faire doctrine that influenced not only some important predecessors of the German Historical School, but also its foremost representatives. Let me briefly elaborate this point. A year after the publication of the WN in English, and a few months after the publication of the first volume of Johann Friedrich Schiller’s German translation,10 the reviewer Johann Georg Heinrich Feder (1740–1821), who taught at Göttingen, wrote in the Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen (10 March, 1777): On the whole Dr.
1 The German context and Das Adam Smith Problem The famous Adam Smith Problem,9 put forward by the German Historical School, is still a subject of controversy. The Problem as such states that there is an irreconcilable difference or inconsistency between the TMS, with its sympathy-based concept of human nature, and the WN, founded on an egoistic theory of self-interest. It is true that self-interest is an important motive in both works, but it is at least intriguing that nowhere in the WN Smith refers to sympathy, neither does he emphasise the four Smithian virtues (prudence, justice, benevolence and selfcommand), so prominent in the last edition of his TMS.
Adam Smith in Context: A Critical Reassessment of Some Central Components of His Thought by Leonidas Montes (auth.)