Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 29, Issue 58, December 2021

Recepções do Neoplatonismo

Nuno Ornelas Martins
Pages 69-92

Adam Smith and the Cambridge Platonists

Adam Smith is usually seen as the founding father of modern economics, interpreted as a science that explains human agency in terms of the pursuit of egoistic self-interest. But a reading of Smith’s writings on moral sentiments shows how critical he was of explanations of society which focus solely on self-interest. When engaging in a critique of those individualistic explanations, Smith refers to the criticism that Thomas Hobbes received from the Cambridge Platonists, who argued against the fatalist view of the human agent driven solely by self-interest. Here the connections between Smith’s view and the Cambridge Platonists are further explored, while also assessing its implications for the common interpretation of Adam Smith as the founding father of modern economics.