Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Edward Westermarck’s Lectures on Adam Smith

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Abstract

The Finnish sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher Edward Westermarck (1862–1939) developed a course on the history of British philosophy. Translated here from Swedish for the first time are Westermarck’s two lectures on Adam Smith, delivered in 1914 at the University of Helsinki. The first lecture introduces Smith’s life and work. He refers to The Wealth of Nations, but only as a great and immensely influential work. Westermarck speaks briefly of Smith’s essays “History of Astronomy” and “Imitative Arts,” as well as his lectures on jurisprudence. Westermarck especially appreciated Smith’s psychology of science, laid out in the “History of Astronomy.” Westermarck’s understanding of the importance of emotions in scientific work was similar to Smith’s. The second lecture focuses on The Theory of Moral Sentiments and touches upon key issues in Westermarck’s work on morality. The lectures are noteworthy for their favor and commentary on Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments.