World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Essays on Philosophical Subjects

Article Id: WHEBN0003730000
Reproduction Date:

Title: Essays on Philosophical Subjects  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Invisible hand, Adam Smith, Classical economics, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, List of books about philosophy
Collection: Books by Adam Smith, Philosophy Books
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Essays on Philosophical Subjects

Essays on Philosophical Subjects, by the Scottish economist Adam Smith, is a history of astronomy down to Smith's own era, plus some thoughts on ancient physics and metaphysics.

This work was published posthumously, in 1795, using material which Adam Smith had intended to publish eventually but had not prepared at the time of his death in 1790. This was done by his literary executors, two old friends from the Scottish academic world; physicist/chemist Joseph Black and pioneering geologist James Hutton. A brief account of their work appears in a section entitled 'Advertisement by the Editors'.[1]

The book consists of three distinct works:

  • The History of Astronomy
  • The History of the Ancient Physics
  • The History of the Ancient Logics and Metaphysics

The History of Astronomy is the largest of these and is thought to have been written in the 1750s, before Smith's major works. The overall understanding is excellent, though the Glasgow Edition of 1976 includes some detailed criticism of his use of sources. But it also defends him for calling Newton a philosopher rather than a scientist; the word 'scientist' did not exist before 1839.

It is also interesting for containing Smith's first mention of the invisible hand:

For it may be observed, that in all Polytheistic religions, among savages, as well as in the early ages of heathen antiquity, it is the irregular events of nature only that are ascribed to the agency and power of the gods. Fire burns, and water refreshes; heavy bodies descend, and lighter substances fly upwards, by the necessity of their own nature; nor was the invisible hand of Jupiter every apprehended to be employed in those matters. (III.2, page 49 of the Glasgow Edition.)

Notes

  1. ^ See Essays on Philosophical Subject by the late Adam Smith, LLD (1 ed.). London and Edinburgh: T. Cadell Jun. and W.Davies (Successors to Mr. Cadell) in the Strand and W. Creech, Edinburgh. 1795. Retrieved 16 June 2015.  via Internet Archive

External links

  • Online edition
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.