Dr. Diane Suhler
Photo taken by Kaci Smart

By Dr. Diane Suhler

*Editor’s Note: CC Biz Buzz is a new monthly column series that will feature insightful commentary from a member of the Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business faculty.

In 1776, Adam Smith wrote his treatise on The Wealth of Nations, a work often considered the blueprint for capitalism. While few people ever actually read this work, most are familiar with some of the core principles of Smith’s pure capitalism: free markets, freedom of enterprise, limited government, the ‘invisible hand’ and individual self-interest resulting in the greatest good for society. However, Smith’s view of economics and of homo economicus is much more complex than this. As a social philosopher, Smith’s seminal work is A Theory of Moral Sentiments, written in 1759. It is through the lens of this earlier work that one should view Smith’s teachings about capitalism—self-interest must be balanced with empathy; individuals and society benefit if self-interest is pursued through virtuous actions; human beings want attention and self-exultation, but they also want to love and be loved (Roberts, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life) …

 

READ MORE: CC Biz Buzz: The road back to Adam Smith