Article

Adam Smith As Critic

James Chandler

in The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith

Published in print May 2013 | ISBN: 9780199605064
Published online July 2013 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199605064.013.0007

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Economics

 Adam Smith As Critic

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Though not best known for his work in criticism, Smith spent much of his later life on a major treatise on the ‘imitative arts’, which may have included the ‘Essay on the Imitative Arts’, posthumously published in 1795. Wordsworth, for one, had no use for Smith as a critic, but Robert Burns was deeply influenced by Smith’s writings. Thanks in part to the example of Rousseau, Smith’s critical arguments are closely imbricated with the more celebrated moral and social arguments he makes in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Rousseau’s interest in the imitative arts, especially the musical arts, was deeply politicized from the start in ways that Smith would have been well aware of. To understand Smith’s complex challenge to the larger tendencies of Rousseau’s polemics, it is necessary to see why Smith quarrelled with Rousseau’s account of the imitative arts and to understand the stakes of this disagreement.

Keywords: Adam Smith; criticism; arts; imitation; music; Rousseau

Article.  9290 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Economic History

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