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How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature…

by Russ Roberts

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1595125,914 (3.41)None
"How the insights of an 18th century economist can help us live better in the 21st century. Adam Smith became famous for The Wealth of Nations, but the Scottish economist also cared deeply about our moral choices and behavior--the subjects of his other brilliant book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). Now, economist Russ Roberts shows why Smith's neglected work might be the greatest self-help book you've never read. Roberts explores Smith's unique and fascinating approach to fundamental questions such as: - What is the deepest source of human satisfaction? - Why do we sometimes swing between selfishness and altruism? - What's the connection between morality and happiness? Drawing on current events, literature, history, and pop culture, Roberts offers an accessible and thought-provoking view of human behavior through the lenses of behavioral economics and philosophy"--… (more)

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  Masq | Aug 27, 2020 |
Adam Smith is mostly known for his economics book, "The Wealth of Nations," and those who know of his work "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" usually don't appreciate that it is (as the blurb on Roberts' book says) "the greatest self-help book that almost no one has read."
Roberts quotes extensively from Smith, but interprets the 18th-century rhetoric for modern readers, and gives context and subtext to explain Smith's thoughts and admonitions. ( )
  librisissimo | Oct 28, 2019 |
Interesting take on Adam Smith's book "the Theory of Moral Sentiments". He goes through the various points and uses modern examples. At times too immature but overall a good book. ( )
  ShadowBarbara | Jan 27, 2017 |
Writers who write after a personal discovery fill their books with a natural energy that makes reading their work a pleasure. That's the case with Russ Roberts' "How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life". Roberts, as economist, describes the moment he finally read Smith's "A Theory of Moral Sentiments"; as the discovery was transformative for him, so also he intends the same for his readers. This book serves as a light and readable introduction Adam Smith's lesser known work on moral philosophy.

It is indeed tragically the case that even academics who are aware of Smith as the father of modern economics, and what Marx later derided as capitalism, miss that Smith was indeed a moral philosopher who offered significant and helpful insights into human behaviour. Roberts' work is a step in the direction of correcting that error. Rather than follow Smith's logic, Roberts selects facets of Smith's work which he estimates with meet with modern questions. In that regard he does well. I could note that Robert's understanding of some of the 18th century theological ideas around the sources of nature's design evident in Smith's work should be taken more seriously as theological. In a similar fashion, devotees of Smith, or specialists in ethics, will surely identify Roberts' strategy as missing some feature of Smith's work or another. But this work is best read as a teaser that will lead you deeper, and not a substitute for the real thing and further personal study. ( )
1 vote PastorBob | Jan 9, 2016 |
A very nice book explaining Adam Smith's insights into human character, what shapes it, and how to be a "lovely" person. Makes very wise words from 1759 very accessible. Easy to digest and lives up to its title. Recommended. ( )
  jvgravy | Jan 3, 2015 |
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"How the insights of an 18th century economist can help us live better in the 21st century. Adam Smith became famous for The Wealth of Nations, but the Scottish economist also cared deeply about our moral choices and behavior--the subjects of his other brilliant book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). Now, economist Russ Roberts shows why Smith's neglected work might be the greatest self-help book you've never read. Roberts explores Smith's unique and fascinating approach to fundamental questions such as: - What is the deepest source of human satisfaction? - Why do we sometimes swing between selfishness and altruism? - What's the connection between morality and happiness? Drawing on current events, literature, history, and pop culture, Roberts offers an accessible and thought-provoking view of human behavior through the lenses of behavioral economics and philosophy"--

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