24 March 2010

Adam Smith and Barack Obama

I received in yesterday's mail a complimentary copy of a new edition of Adam Smith's 1759 The Theory of Moral Sentiments, edited by my friend Ryan Patrick Hanley and published by Penguin Classics. It boasts an introduction written by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. Hanley, for his part, is a first-rate Smith scholar; I highly recommend his recent book Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009.

The cover letter that accompanied the copy of the book writes, "President Obama has cited The Theory of Moral Sentiments as key to his thinking." That was something I didn't know, so I did a little looking. It turns out that in 2008 the New York Times asked then-candidate Obama to supply a list of books and writers that were significant to him. He included both Smith's Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments in the list. Here is an article discussing his list.

2 comments:

Troy Camplin said...

I find it fascinating that he includes thow two on his list, as I have seen little evidence of their influence on him.

Neil Parille said...

The Theory of Moral Sentiments is one of those books I have always planned on reading.

-Neil Parille