Adam Smith, David Hume, Liberalism, and Esotericism: Introduction

15 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020

See all articles by Daniel B. Klein

Daniel B. Klein

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Thomas Merrill

American University

Date Written: June 5, 2020

Abstract

This is the editors’ introduction to a special issue of Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization on Adam Smith, David Hume, liberalism, and esotericism, consisting altogether of 14 articles. Following the important work of Arthur Melzer, we offer a brief introduction to esotericism, understood broadly to mean discourse that involves both a more obvious meaning (exoteric) and a less obvious meaning (esoteric). We remark on how esotericism on the part of Smith and Hume relates to their liberalism. Topics treated by the eleven articles on Smith include his replacing of Antimachus with Parmenides, the dynamism of liberalism, interest-rate caps, reputation as something covered by commutative justice, his use of Solon, his apparent advancing of a labor theory of value, his favor for the interests of the poor, his presentation of possibilities on schooling, the dialectics of the parable of the poor man’s son, three levels of objects to consider a correspondence between beneficialness and propriety, and the responsibility of social elites in their influencing of fashion. Topics treated by the two articles on Hume include moderation and the liberal state in History of England and the intimate alliance between reason and passions.

Suggested Citation

Klein, Daniel B. and Merrill, Thomas, Adam Smith, David Hume, Liberalism, and Esotericism: Introduction (June 5, 2020). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Forthcoming, GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 20-20, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3620250

Daniel B. Klein (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://economics.gmu.edu/people/dklein

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Thomas Merrill

American University

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