Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life


Product Details

$17.95  $16.51
Princeton University Press
Publish Date
5.0 X 0.8 X 8.1 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author

Ryan Patrick Hanley is professor of political science at Boston College. He is the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue and the editor of Adam Smith: His Life, Thought, and Legacy (Princeton) and the Penguin Classics edition of Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments.


"Our Great Purpose is a short, engaging, and thoughtful exploration of Adam Smith's philosophy on how to live a good life, written by one of the world's preeminent Smith scholars."--Dennis C. Rasmussen, author of The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought
"An enjoyable read. Hanley simultaneously recovers the authentic Smith while providing ample evidence that commercial society may be vindicated not by acquisitiveness but by the praiseworthy lives it makes possible."--Eric Schliesser, author of Adam Smith: Systematic Philosopher and Public Thinker
"Smith, as Ryan Patrick Hanley understands well, was a modern heir to the great classical search for the good life, as much a student of the soul as of modern commercial society. In translating him for our times, Hanley offers a gem of a book, a guide to a great thinker that is full of insights about the practical pursuit of living well."--Darrin M. McMahon, author of Happiness: A History
"There is a mode of teaching that explores the work of a great thinker by taking key passages and explicating their assumptions and implications. It's a form of learning that few of us get to experience firsthand. But in this book, a master expositor of Smith's moral philosophy provides us with just such an experience. Hanley guides us through Smith's ideas, and with insight and eloquence shows us the relevance of Smith's thought for the way we live our lives."--Jerry Z. Muller, author of Adam Smith in His Time and Ours: Designing the Decent Society
"A brilliant and original way to encounter Adam Smith--a book that will still be read in fifty years."--David Warsh, author of Economic Principals: Masters and Mavericks of Modern Economics
"An accessible, erudite, and concise introduction to Adam Smith in full, the moral philosopher of wisdom and prudence."---Jordan Ballor,
"[Adam] Smith had a way of pulling all aspects of human society together, from eating and drinking with friends to trading on the stock exchange. To separate them destroys the larger picture. . . . While Smith never advocated 'a single best way for all people to live, ' . . . [he] deftly connected all human activity into a single, philosophical portrait, and Our Great Purpose makes a compelling case for us to study it closely."---David J. Davis, Wall Street Journal
"Ryan Patrick Hanley has provided a succinct, witty and informative work on the relevance of Adam Smith today, mercifully released from the old 'father of capitalism' misrepresentation. . . . An excellent primer on the true Smith."---Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Hanley is a distinguished political scientist at Boston College who has specialized in Smith; here in thirty short chapters he concentrates his accumulated expertize to deliver an Ariadne's thread to guide the reader through the multiple issues Smith introduces and explores. . . . This should be passed out to all beginning students of Economics.

"---Hugo Meynell, Heythrop Journal
"An essential text of practical wisdom."---David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
"This excellent book deserves a wide audience and should be required reading for every college freshman."---J. H. Spence, Choice Reviews