Smith designed a philosophical system whose different éléments (Moral Phylosophy, Jurisprudence and political Economy) where to be linked by epistemic principles. They reveal that Smith saw the world as the Design of the Deity where every element of the system, especially mankind, are naturally led to meet Deity’s ends. This teleological outlook is applied to a philosophical inquiry to history in a way that would echo in Kant and Hegel’s writtings concerning the cunning of Reason. Connecting economics and history makes it possible to determine an ideal progress towards improvement and understand historical cycles in the slow and gradual actual process towards Progress. Tensions between the ideal and the actual historical course prompts one to reinterpret Smith’s vision of natural and actual orders of modern society and his views on the place of the State in that society.
Adam Smith, philosophical history, liberalism, materialism, cunning of reason, four stages theory, scottish enlightenment, economic development.
JEL Classification: B12, B31