1st Edition

Psychoanalytic Studies of the Work of Adam Smith Towards a Theory of Moral Development and Social Relations

By Sule Ozler, Paul Gabrinetti Copyright 2018
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    218 Pages
    by Routledge

    Psychoanalytic Studies of the Work of Adam Smith blends the rich intellectual heritage of the hermeneutic tradition with the methods and concepts of psychoanalysis, in order to examine the seminal works of Adam Smith. This is the first book on Smith to analyse the works of the groundbreaking moral theorist and founding father of economics from a psychoanalytic perspective, whilst also examining the human capacities and skills that are necessary to put Smith’s ideas into practice.

    Starting with a detailed discussion of the psychological difficulties that afflicted Smith, Özler and Gabrinetti examine the influence that Smith’s life had on the ideas that are found in his major works. The authors explore the sympathetic process in Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) from an intersubjectivist perspective and use ideas from developmental psychology to argue that sympathy leads to morality. This book contains a thorough analysis of the defences that are used to create Smith’s moral system in the TMS and explores how Smith’s ideas were precursors to concepts later developed by Freud. The authors show that Smith’s attitude to women was at best ambivalent and consider the reciprocal interaction between markets and morality from an evolutionary psychology perspective.

    Covering an impressive range of topics, this book will appeal to academics and postgraduate students with an interest in psychoanalysis, moral philosophy, history of thought and the social sciences. The book should also be of interest to more advanced undergraduate students.

    1. Introduction  2. An Intersubjective Interpretation of Sympathy  3. Sympathy, Empathy and Evidence from Developmental Psychology  4. The Impartial Spectator, Conscience and Morality  5. The Role of the Deity in Smith’s Moral System  6. A Known World: an Analysis of Defenses in Adam Smith’s the Theory of Moral Sentiments  7. Defenses and Morality: Adam Smith, Sigmund Freud and Contemporary Psychoanalysis  8. An Evolutionary Psychological and Adaptive Defenses View of Relations between Markets and Morality  9. On Dependency  10. On Friendship  11. A Jungian Interpretation of the Place of Women in Smith’s Works  12. Conclusions


    Şule Özler is Associate Professor of Economics at UCLA, and a research psychoanalyst at the New Center for Psychoanalysis. She also maintains a private practice. Her research interests include psychoanalytic examination of philosophical, history of thought and history of economic thought texts. 

    Paul Gabrinetti is a member of the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles and a former Professor of Clinical Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He maintains a private practice, and his research interests include the use of the analytic psychologies in human and historical proceedings, and the role of myth in psychological change.

    ‘This provocative and rich book offers not uncritical re-readings of Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments from multiple psychoanalytic perspectives in order to reveal that the father of homo economicus anticipates important elements of Freudian moral psychology and social theory. The argument also reveals the humanity and generosity of the authors who invite us to reflect not just on the foundations of Smith's system, but also on our own reactions to his writings.’ - Eric Schliesser, Professor of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    ‘Şule Özler and □Paul A. Gabrinetti have written a wonderful book inter-translating Adam Smith and psychoanalysis. Explaining Freud’s work on empathy by Smith’s on sympathic is deeply helpful. This opens up opportunities for exploration since they tell us Freud himself knew Smith’s Weath of Nations as that of "a great philosopher and wit." For me, the most illuminating aspect the work is their use of Jung’s doctrine – all humans have a mix of feminine and masculine – to explain Smith’s difficult doctrine that "humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity if a man" without having to appeal to innate differences among humans. Smith takes pains to assert the observed difference of the philosopher and the street porter are not fixed by nature but set by incentives, history, and luck, so Özler and Gabrinetti have offered a reading coherent with Smith’s larger doctrine.’ - David M. Levy, Professor of Economics, George Mason University, and Distinguished Fellow of the History of Economics Society, USA.