Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A fictional interview with Adam Smith

Atanu Dey has a fictional interview on his blog with the spirit of the long deceased Adam Smith. Expectedly, given Atanu's leanings, the overwhelming theme is economic freedom; and the interesting parts are the spirit's thoughts on India's situation. One of Smith’s answers is a direct quote from The Wealth of Nations, and posits the famous invisible hand theory. I like this passage as it provides an understanding that isn't necessarily intuitive but makes sense when one thinks carefully about it.
“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 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. … [Every individual] 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 society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”

1 comment:

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