SummaryThis is the first important school of economic thought, which included some of the best known economists of all times. Thanks to these authors, the study of economics became more of a science, instead of just a kind of philosophy. It took place from the late 18th century to the late 19th century.
Adam Smith was born in 1723. His father was a lawyer and civil servant, and during his years as a moral philosophy student at the University of Glasgow, Adam Smith developed an increasing interest in liberty, reason and free speech. He then went on to continue his studies at Oxford, where he started writing about the low quality of education in English universities. Later, he taught at Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow, where he would end up occupying the position of rector until his death, in 1790.
During his lifetime, Smith met well known philosophers such as David Hume and Voltaire and other intellectual leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, François Quesnay or A.-R.-J. Turgot, who influenced his work, helping him become the first great economist of the Classical school of economics.
“The Wealth of Nations,” which took twelve long years to write, finally published in 1776, is the foundation of modern economics. It was basically against prevailing mercantilist theories, introducing the importance of the principle of division of labour and defending free trade. Basically, Smith understood that the satisfaction of individual self-interest, limited by that of the others was the best means to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. However, he supported the State’s action in justice, education, health, and in all those enterprises that private initiative was unable to address.