Adam Smith

Nicolas Malebranche: De la recherche de la verite

Paris: André Pralard, 1678

Sp Coll RB 2852

This volume has the bookplate of Adam Smith, and a note in pencil under front cover: From Adam Smith's library.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) was a moral philosopher, political economist, and influential figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. He attended Glasgow College, where he studied classical languages, logic, moral philosophy, mathematics and natural philosophy. His most influential teacher was Frances Hutcheson, Professor of Moral Philosophy, one of the first to lecture in English instead of Latin.

In 1740, Smith won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he spent six years, reading ancient philosophy, English, French and Italian literature. In 1746 he returned to his home-town of Kirkcaldy. he gave a course of public lectures on rhetoric in Edinburgh and made some influential friends among the intelligentsia, including David Hume. In 1751 he became Professor of Logic at Glasgow, and then, in 1752, Professor of Moral Philosophy. According to his pupil, John Millar, he taught natural theology, ethics, morality relating to justice and political regulations relating to expediency (resulting 25 years later in his work Wealth of Nations). He also amassed an extensive personal library.

In 1764, at the age of only 40, he resigned both of his chairs to become tutor to the third Duke of Buccleuch whilst he undertook a continental tour. This enabled Smith to work on the Wealth of Nations, one of the few works in the field of economics to have become a classic.

Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) was a French Cartesian who published important works on philosophy and theology as well as studies on optics, the laws of motion and the nature of colour. This volume, on the nature of the human mind and the use that must be made of it to avoid error in the sciences, established his reputation.

Adam Smith: Title page of Malebranche, Nicolas: De la recherche de la verite
Title page of Nicolas Malebranche's De la recherche de la verite.

Go to the next book in the exhibition, previously owned by: Robert Burns.