At the turn of the nineteenth century, most of Europe had become embroiled in the enlightened idea that society could progress nearly infinitely through the use of reason. Writing in England in 1798, the Reverend Thomas R. Malthus proposed a view of economics centered on population patterns. His Essay on Population suggested a view on human progress tainted by inevitability. He established two constants: food is necessary for mans’ survival and reproduction from the union of the sexes is necessary for mans’ survival.… Read the rest here
An Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations
Author: Adam Smith. A pioneering economist who developed revolutionary concepts associated with free market economic theory. He argued that rational people, acting in their own self-interest, could create en efficient economic system. He studied in England but was of Scottish decent. He was influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment.
Context: The work was published in 1776. It was published during the beginning of the industrial revolution in response to the outdated economic ideas of the time.… Read the rest here
The Wealth of Nations, 1776
Author: Adam Smith was a Scottish moral philosopher, and is known as “the father of modern economics.” He enjoyed a thorough education at the University of Glasgow, and after graduating traveled around Europe as a tutor.
Context: Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations during the Industrial Revolution. It was published shortly after Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. At the time, Great Britain’s economy was booming, and it’s imperialist influence was spreading through Africa, the Americas, and Asia.… Read the rest here
Essay on Population, 1798
Author: Thomas Mathus. Malthus was an English cleric and scholar, and was very influential in the fields of demography and political economics. He did not believe society was perfectible, and wrote in opposition to many Enlightened thinkers of his era.
Context-Famine was a fact of everyday life in England, even as agriculture was making major advances in efficiency and increased productions. However, the population continued to rise, and production of food was unable to meet demands.… Read the rest here
Smith states that the division of labor significantly improves the productive power in manufacture through three ways: the increased dexterity of workman by repetition, the reduced time brought by the quick transition between workers, and the efficiency brought by the machines. These workers, who perform repetitive and tedious work in order to make accommodations, are only a small part of labor in the industry world. A large quantity and variety of labor is needed in every chain of the manufacturing industry, from collecting the raw material to transporting goods from one place to another.… Read the rest here
Chapter 1 of Smith’s famous text argued that specialization is key to economic growth. He explained how making each man a master of his particular trade makes production faster and leads to further innovation; a cycle of rapid growth then ensues. This growth spreads more wealth over more people, narrowing the gap between princes and peasants. Malthus, in his First Essay on Population, debunked Godwin’s argument that a more egalitarian society and economics will end poverty.… Read the rest here