Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of famous quotes by Adam Smith, the Scottish philosopher and political economist who wrote The Wealth of Nations.

108 Famous Quotes By Adam Smith, The Author Of Wealth Of Nations

Quick Facts

Famous As: Economist and Philosopher

Born On: June 16, 1723

Died On: July 17, 1790

Born In: Kirkcaldy, Scotland

Founder / Co Founder: Royal Society of Edinburgh

Died At Age: 67

Had it not been for Scottish philosopher and political economist Adam Smith the world would have definitely been a poorer place to live in. a towering figure in the history of economic thought, Adam Smith was a key figure of the Scottish Enlightenment who is best known for his book, the magnum opus of his life, ‘The Wealth of Nations’. He was the first political economist to pen a comprehensive system of political economy. His classic work which is now considered as the ‘Bible of capitalism’ set the first modern work of economics, and became a precursor to the modern adaptation of the academic discipline of economics. Through his book, he laid the foundation of the classical free market economic theory, a concept unknown to the world until then. The book went on to feature in the 100 Best Scottish Books of all time.Apart from his fiscal theory, Adam Smith was a great moral philosopher and pioneer of economic principles. His quotes till date stand relevant to the society’s glaring economic needs, moral principles and give a glimpse of the real factors that assure a better life and a happy future. Go through them and see for yourself.

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

Adam Smith

The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.

Adam Smith

All money is a matter of belief.

Adam Smith

The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.

Adam Smith

Labour was the first price, the original purchase - money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.

Adam Smith

It is not by augmenting the capital of the country, but by rendering a greater part of that capital active and productive than would otherwise be so, that the most judicious operations of banking can increase the industry of the country.

Adam Smith

Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse.

Adam Smith

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.

Adam Smith

What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?

Adam Smith

Humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity that of a man.

Adam Smith

No complaint... is more common than that of a scarcity of money.

Adam Smith

Never complain of that of which it is at all times in your power to rid yourself.

Adam Smith

The propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals.

Adam Smith

As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce.

Adam Smith

With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches.

Adam Smith

On the road from the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity.

Adam Smith

Great ambition, the desire of real superiority, of leading and directing, seems to be altogether peculiar to man, and speech is the great instrument of ambition.

Adam Smith

Adventure upon all the tickets in the lottery, and you lose for certain; and the greater the number of your tickets the nearer your approach to this certainty.

Adam Smith

This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts.

Adam Smith

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.

Adam Smith

The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence.

Adam Smith

I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

Adam Smith

Labor was the first price, the original purchase - money that was paid for all things.

Adam Smith

Poor David Hume is dying fast, but with more real cheerfulness and good humor and with more real resignation to the necessary course of things, than any whining Christian ever dyed with pretended resignation to the will of God.

Adam Smith

Defense is superior to opulence.

Adam Smith

Resentment seems to have been given us by nature for a defense, and for a defense only! It is the safeguard of justice and the security of innocence.

Adam Smith

The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation.

Adam Smith

The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.

Adam Smith

A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.Most government is by the rich for the rich. Government comprises a large part of the organized injustice in any society, ancient or modern.Civil government, insofar as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, and for the defence of those who have property against those who have none.

Adam Smith

Nothing is more graceful than habitual cheerfulness.

Adam Smith

No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.

Adam Smith

But avarice and ambition in the rich, in the poor the hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment, are the passions which prompt to invade property, passions much more steady in their operation, and much more universal in their influence. Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many.

Adam Smith

By pursuing his own interest (the individual) frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

Adam Smith

The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public ... The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ... ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined ... with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men ... who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public

Adam Smith

Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to society... He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention

Adam Smith

It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Adam Smith

It is the interest of every man to live as much at his ease as he can; and if his emoluments are to be precisely the same, whether he does or does not perform some very laborious duty, it is certainly his interest, at least as interest is vulgarly understood, either to neglect it altogether, or, if he is subject to some authority which will not suffer him to do this, to perform it in as careless and slovenly a manner as that authority will permit.

Adam Smith

Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.

Adam Smith

The man of system...is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it... He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it.

Adam Smith

In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest. Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.

Adam Smith

A merchant, it has been said very properly, is not necessarily the citizen of any particular country.

Adam Smith

It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense. They are themselves, always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society.

Adam Smith

It is not the actual greatness of national wealth, but its continual increase, which occasions a rise in the wages of labour. It is not, accordingly, in the richest countries, but in the most thriving, or in those which are growing rich the fastest, that the wages of labour are highest. England is certainly, in the present times, a much richer country than any part of North America. The wages of labour, however, are much higher in North America than in any part of England.

Adam Smith

Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the State.

Adam Smith

The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.

Adam Smith

It appears, accordingly, from the experience of all ages and nations, I believe, that the work done by freemen comes cheaper in the end than that performed by slaves.

Adam Smith

Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.

Adam Smith

The world neither ever saw, nor ever will see, a perfectly fair lottery.

Adam Smith

It would be too ridiculous to go about seriously to prove that wealth does not consist in money, or in gold and silver; but in what money purchases, and is valuable only for purchasing. Money no doubt, makes always a part of the national capital; but it has already been shown that it generally makes but a small part, and always the most unprofitable part of it.

Adam Smith

Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.

Adam Smith

A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural.

Adam Smith

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Adam Smith

The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, capable not only of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting 100 impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.

Adam Smith

The discipline of colleges and universities is in general contrived, not for the benefit of the students, but for the interest, or more properly speaking, for the ease of the masters. Its object is, in all cases, to maintain the authority of the master, and whether he neglects or performs his duty, to oblige the students in all cases to behave toward him as if he performed it with the greatest diligence and ability.

Adam Smith

The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers.

Adam Smith

Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention.

Adam Smith

Justice, however, never was in reality administered gratis in any country. Lawyers and attornies, at least, must always be paid by the parties; and, if they were not, they would perform their duty still worse than they actually perform it.

Adam Smith

We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations [that is, unions or colluding organizations] of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual price.

Adam Smith

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.

Adam Smith

Goods can serve many other purposes besides purchasing money, but money can serve no other purpose besides purchasing goods.

Adam Smith

The division of labour was limited by the extent of the market

Adam Smith

The problem with fiat money is that it rewards the minority that can handle money, but fools the generation that has worked and saved money.

Adam Smith

Now many such things may be done without intitling the people to rise in arms. A gross, flagrant, and palpable abuse no doubt will do it, as if they should be required to pay a tax equal to half or third of their substance.

Adam Smith

An instructed and intelligent people are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one.

Adam Smith

That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is most often unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.

Adam Smith

In ease of body, peace of mind, all the different ranks of life are nearly upon a level and the beggar who suns himself by the side of the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for.

Adam Smith

Great nations are never impoverished by private, though they sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct.

Adam Smith

Corn is a necessary, silver is only a superfluity.

Adam Smith

Every man lives by exchanging.

Adam Smith

It is unjust that the whole of society should contribute towards an expence of which the benefit is confined to a part of the society.

Adam Smith

Problems worthy of attacks, prove their worth by hitting back

Adam Smith

The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations.

Adam Smith

Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality.

Adam Smith

The learned ignore the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of the ideas of their imagination.

Adam Smith

Individual Ambition Serves the Common Good.

Adam Smith

What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.

Adam Smith

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

Adam Smith

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this - no dog exchanges bones with another.

Adam Smith

The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.

Adam Smith

The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another...

Adam Smith

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest

Adam Smith

To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.

Adam Smith

The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.

Adam Smith

The profligacy of a man of fashion is looked upon with much less contempt and aversion, than that of a man of meaner condition.

Adam Smith

We are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it.

Adam Smith

I have always considered David Hume as approaching as nearly the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man as perhaps the nature of human frailty will allow.

Adam Smith

...a man within the breast...

Adam Smith

The division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour.

Adam Smith

The furious behaviour of an angry man is more likely to exasperate us against himself than against his enemies.

Adam Smith

In ease of body and peace of mind, all the different ranks of life are nearly upon the same level, and the beggar who suns himself by the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for.

Adam Smith

There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.

Adam Smith

All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

Adam Smith

The first duty of the sovereign [is] that of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies, [which] can be performed only by means of a military force

Adam Smith

To superficial minds, the vices of the great seem at all times agreeable.

Adam Smith

I am a beau only in my books.

Adam Smith

Virtue is excellence, something uncommonly great and beautiful, which rises far above what is vulgar and ordinary.

Adam Smith

It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased;

Adam Smith

The wages of labour are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives.

Adam Smith

A nation is not made welthy by the childish accumulation of shiny metals, but it enriched by the economic prosperity of it's people.

Adam Smith

There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.

Adam Smith

Every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of human life.

Adam Smith

What is the work of one man, in a rude state of society, being generally that of several in an improved one.

Adam Smith

In the common degree of the moral, there is no virtue. Virtue is excellence.

Adam Smith

Of their passions in the same object at that particular time.

Adam Smith