Adam Smith, Optimist Or Pessimist?: A New Problem Concerning the Teleological Basis of Commercial Society

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This work explores a contradiction in the work of Adam Smith which has been little noticed in the past but which has fundamental consequences for understanding his thought. The author explains two contradictory cases within the corpus of Adam Smith's writings: Smith argues for and against teleology and for and against a best regime, the first part of the book examines Smith's case for teleology and a best regime; the second part shows his case against these. The author concludes that Smith was both the Prophet and Cassandra of commercialism, and that optimist and pessimist coexist in Smith's oeuvre without resolution of the tension which is, at root, theological. Smith's theological view alternates between a fully harmonious earthly order and one in which humans must reverently submit to numerous injustices and disharmonies.

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