Adam Smith's Nature And Nature Analysis

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Adam Smith is obviously interested in what markets, people, and nations do naturally in order to accumulate wealth; hence the word ‘nature’ being in the long title of the book. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as any decent political philosopher, is also interested in nature and human nature. However, both authors seem to take for granted that their readers would intuitively know what they mean when they use iterations and phrases using the word ‘nature.’ This word is used frequently enough, especially in philosophical texts, that the actual meaning of the word and of phrases containing the word have often been obscured or lost their meaning. It implies a state of being or doing based in what is organic as opposed to what is artificial or manufactured.…show more content…
Adam Smith says, in Book I, that “in human nature, which has in view no such extensive utility, the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another (Bk. I, Ch. II, pg. 117).” He is talking about the division of labor and how that comes to be, and he says that this division comes not from human wisdom, but human nature, because human wisdom implies that man had foresight to choose one method or another. But, certainly, Smith was not there when man began to divide labor and to barter with one another. Why is this system considered a part of ‘human nature?’ Perhaps, some societies had more communal-style methods of working with and sharing goods with one another. Because Smith comes from a market-based economy and he is aware of, and may have had some experience with, a barter…show more content…
Specifically, he says that “unless the state takes some new measures for the publick defence, the natural habits of the people render them altogether incapable of defending themselves (698).” Yet, Smith does not define what “natural habits” are, or where they stem from. He does not explain if these habits are inherit in every man, or just those from a particular society or nation, and he does not explain what these habits are to begin with. He does say previously that citizens of wealthy, mercantile nations are “unwarlike,” this being the case, these aforementioned habits may be the organic, nonviolent absence of action he seem to think are inherit in these people. But, people as a whole do not fit easily into this box Smith has constructed. Because a nation is wealthy, the wealthy can participate in expensive and time consuming leisure activities, such as shooting and hunting. Others will hunt because it is a means of getting more or less free meat, and others because they want to. These people are participating in a warlike, violent activity, and if they can hit a fox or some other hunted animal, it is no stretch of the imagination that they would also have the skill to hit a person. Smith does not seem to consider the alternatives when it comes to who and what people are. He makes his assertions, which are certainly based in logic and observation, but he either does not give enough proof for his

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