An Essay into the Nature and Causes of Poverty — Part 1


In the following, I explore a few fundamental ideas relating to the core subject matter of economics. One can precisely date the founding of the discipline with the publication in 1776 of Adam Smith’s seminal work titled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

Note that the focus was on the wealth of nations, and not  the poverty of nations. Poverty is the default condition of all peoples in all times; it is the nature and causes of the wealth of nations that require explaining.

Economics is a branch of social science. Social science is devoted to the study of human societies and human interactions. Today economics is a vast field with dozens of specialized areas of inquiry. But the discipline was started by, would you believe, philosophers. What we call classical economists today — Adam Smith, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, et al — were philosophers. Smith’s first book Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) laid the ethical and moral foundations for his later book on the wealth of nations. Continue reading