[The following is the single mention of the famous or infamous “invisible hand” by Adam Smith. — George P. Landow]

Decorated initial T

he annual revenue of every society is always precisely equal to the exchangeable value of the whole annual produce of its industry, or rather is precisely the same thing with that exchangeable value. As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can, both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, 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 no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. —“Of the Expense of the Institution for the Education of Youth,” The Wealth of Nations

Related Material

Recent Scholarly Studies

Rasmussen, Dennis C.. The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019.

Schliesser, Eric. Adam Smith: Systematic Philosophy and Public Thinker. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Adam Smith's An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: T. Nelson & Sons, 1852. Project Gutenberg. [EBook #38194]

Last modified 7 May 2019