But, as Andrew Skinner reveals in his introduction to this edition, the real sophistication of "The Wealth of Nations" lies less in individual areas of economic analysis than in its overall picture of a vast analytical system--a capitalist economy--in which all the parts can be seen simultaneously interacting with each other. In addition, Smith's view of society was not merely an economic one. "The Wealth of Nations" is far from being an apologia for unregulated business enterprise: Smith was at pains to point out that economic advance can have undesirable social consequences, and that labour which is economically unproductive can be beneficial to society at large.
Adam Smith (1723-90) was born in Glasgow and educated at Glasgow and Oxford. Two years after his return to Scotland, Smith moved to Edinburgh, where he delivered lectures on Rhetoric. In 1751 Smith was appointed Professor of Logic at Glasgow, but was translated to chair of Moral Philosophy in 1752. His The Theory of Moral Sentiments was published in 1759 and The Wealth of Nations in 1776, the same year as the Declaration of Indpendence.
Andrew Skinner teaches at the Adam Smith Institute and is an expert on the author's work.
"Adam Smith's enormous authority resides, in the end, in the same property that we discover in Marx: not in any ideology, but in an effort to see to the bottom of things." --Robert L. Heilbroner