Saturday, September 12, 2015

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

This is a new book by Russ Roberts, a former economics professor at George Mason University, Stanford, and others.  He's currently a research fellow at Stanford.  I've listened to his podcast, EconTalk, for years.  In How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Roberts takes a fresh look at Adam Smith's second most famous work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and maps its teachings to contemporary life.  Even if you've endured enjoyed having read Moral Sentiments, you'll find Roberts' book interesting.

If you've never read Moral Sentiments, then this book would be a short primer.  Roberts asserts that Smith's message is just as relevant today as it was in the 1700s.  Roberts is kind enough to offer translations of Smith's text, written in the 1750s, to modern language.  He doesn't provide a rigorous cover-to-cover analysis or even a linear coverage, but instead focuses on key concepts, such as propriety, being loved and lovely, the third person perspective.  I like his comparison of Smith's work with modern behavioral economics.

Roberts offers a free download of the first chapter on his site.  This is a 13 page introduction to the book that offers an overview of Roberts' coverage.  

I was surprised at the apparent timelessness of Smith's observations of human behavior.  I don't know if Roberts' book can change your life, but I was pleased with his fresh perspective on this forgotten masterpiece.

No comments: