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The Economy of the WordLanguage, History, and Economics$
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Keith Tribe

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190211615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190211615.001.0001

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Das Adam Smith Problem and the Origins of Smith Scholarship

Das Adam Smith Problem and the Origins of Smith Scholarship

(p.139) Chapter 5 Das Adam Smith Problem and the Origins of Smith Scholarship
The Economy of the Word

Keith Tribe

Oxford University Press

In the mid-nineteenth century German scholars invented an ‘Adam Smith Problem’, an apparent inconsistency between the ‘sympathetic’ conception of human behaviour in his 1759 Theory of Moral Sentiments, and the ‘selfish’ conception in his 1776 Wealth of Nations. By the end of the century it was clear that this was all based upon a misconception, but more important, at the time there was virtually no discussion of Smith’s work in Britain; it was through a German discussion of what proved to be a mistaken idea that scholarly attention to Smith’s work first got going.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, human behaviour, selfishness, German economics, translation

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