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Quotes from Adam Smith

Adam Smith is often referred to as the "father of modern economics".

The Real Adam Smith is a two-hour documentary on his life, work and relevance in the modern world.

Below, you will find a few quotes from his two greatest works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations.

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.

Never complain of that of which it is at all times in your power to rid yourself.

The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.

No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.

It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.

Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.

Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions.

The learned ignore the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of the ideas of their imagination.

How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility?

Individual Ambition Serves the Common Good.

We are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it.

To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.

The prudent man always studies seriously and earnestly to understand whatever he professes to understand, and not merely to persuade other people that he understands it; and though his talents may not always be very brilliant, they are always perfectly genuine. He neither endeavors to impose upon you by the cunning devices of an artful impostor, nor by the arrogant airs of an assuming pedant, nor by the confident assertions of a superficial and imprudent pretender. He is not ostentatious even of the abilities which he really possesses. His conversation is simple and modest, and he is averse to all the quackish arts by which other people so frequently thrust themselves into public notice and reputation.