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Adam Smith – Invisible Hand
From An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chap. 2 by Adam Smith.  By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, […]

Written by Ira Gorelick

May 12, 2020

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From An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chap. 2 by Adam Smith.

 By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. [Par. IV.2.9]

[The rich] consume little more than the poor, and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity…they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.

The Theory Of Moral Sentiments, Part IV, Chapter I, pp.184-5, para. 10.

Every individual… neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it… he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

The Wealth Of Nations, Book IV, Chapter II, p. 456, para. 9.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.

The Wealth Of Nations, Book I, Chapter II, pp. 26-7, para 12.

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