Adam Smith's Legacy: His Place in the Development of Modern Economics

By Michael Fry | Go to book overview

3

THE GENERAL THEORY OF SURPLUSES AS A FORMALIZATION OF THE UNDERLYING THEORETICAL THOUGHT OF ADAM SMITH, HIS PREDECESSORS AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES

Maurice Allais

Adam Smith's work 'An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations' raises political economy to the level of the positive sciences, by the care he took never to base his reasoning other than on observation and experience… If one were simply to jot down the number of truths that Smith established beyond doubt, the useful consequences he derived from the most firmly founded principles, the both shrewd and accurate insights revealed at every moment by his most accurately directed observations, the varied examples provided by his vast knowledge, one would fill a whole book.

Jean-Baptiste Say (Cours Complet d'Economie Politique Pratique, 1829)

Economics, naturally complicated and therefore difficult, becomes easy when it is simplified, that is to say, when it is reduced to elementary ideas which, precisely defined, appear to be trivial as truths. Then this science develops under its own impetus. Its propositions generate one another, as if they were successively identical consequences and propositions; and the point at issue

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