Adam Smith, David Hume, Liberalism, and Esotericism: Introduction
15 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 5, 2020
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.
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