Adam Smith remains as one of the most famous scholars in history. He was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1723.
Smith is widely cited as the father of modern economics and whose greatest work, "An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" is often abreviated to "The Wealth of Nations" and can be regarded as the first serious study of economics on a massive and international scale.
Allegedly kidnapped by gypsies at a young and then rescued, he went on to study at universities in Glasgow and Oxford. He taught moral philosophy during much of his life and obtained a professorship in Glasgow. He travelled extensively throughout Europe and where he met many intellectuals and academics. On return to Scotland, he began the massive task of what was to become one of the most influential books in history and a cornerstone of modern economics that has spread throughout the World.
At the heart of his economic belief was that prices were established on the basis of supply and demand; a factor that largely remains true with few exceptions and perhaps exemplified by the price fluctuations of commodities such as natural oil and gas even though he would have seen little of either in his lifetime.
Critics of his work often forget that he was writing the 'Wealth of Nations' during a period of mass migration of people rejecting the former feudal agrarian system while embracing the better prospects promised by the Industrial Revolution.
It was the moment when most British cities and large towns were created and where mill owners replaced gentry as the new rich people of the country. Indeed, there were huge country estates that began to fall into disrepair as workers migrated to the new cities and towns in favour of better livelihood and lifestyle.
Despite some limitations that have arisen on account of technology, the 'Wealth of Nations' pretty much hit the nail on the head and where almost every interpretation of economic theory applied in modern times owes some aspects to this monumental work.
Two centuries later, Dr Tom Stonier wrote what might be regarded as the modern additional volume and called it, "The Wealth of Information" and where the value of data and information added to the list of what Adam Smith could not forsee and where programming software on a computer could be more valuable than the hardware designed to store such information. Today, the Institute bearing his name exerts considerable influence in the day to day running of International Commerce and thus has a bearing on our wealth and society in profound and major ways.
It's quite amazing to realise that even in modern times and with the benefit of modern computer systems, a compendium akin to the 'Wealth of Nations' would still be a massive undertaking and maybe taking several years to complete.
Adam Smith did it with parchment and a pen! He died in the summer of 1790 and was buried in Edinburgh. The newest college in Fife is the Adam Smith Collage located in Glenrothes and one of the theatres, the Adam Smith Theatre is located in Kirkcaldy.
Pictures from Open Source Resources.
Text by Alandon.