By Albion Woodbury Small
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Extra info for Adam Smith and Modern Sociology a Study in the Methodology of the Social Sciences
The chapter contains illustrations in abundance of the psychological nature of the forces that have originated and modified the use of money through varied estimates of convenience. , etc. At the close of the chapter the author enters upon that thus far unbounded sea of troubles, the theory of value. We discover at a glance, in the light of the economic discussion of nearly a century, that Smith’s treatment of the subject was on a relatively superficial plane. That is, he was discussing the technique, not the psychology, nor the logic, nor the sociology, of money.
The miner, the builder of Page 42 ----------the furnace for smelting the ore, the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brickmaker, the bricklayer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the millwright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them. Were we to examine, in the same manner, all the different parts of his dress and household furniture, the coarse linen shirt which he wears next his skin, the shoes which cover his feet, the bed which he lies on, and all the different parts which compose it, the kitchen-grate at which he prepares his victuals, the coals which he makes use of for that purpose, dug from the bowels of the earth, and brought to him perhaps by a long sea and a long land carriage, all the other utensils of his kitchen, all the furniture of his table, the knives and forks, the earthen or pewter plates upon which he serves up and divides his victuals, the different hands employed in preparing his bread and his beer, the glass window which lets in the heat and the light, and keeps out the wind and the rain, with all the knowledge and art requisite for preparing that beautiful and happy invention, without which these northern parts of the world could scarcely have afforded a very comfortable habitation, together with the tools of all the different workmen employed in producing those different conveniences; if we examine, I say, all these things, and consider what a variety of labour is employed about each of them, we shall be sensible that without the assistance and co-operation of many thousands the very meanest person in a civilized country could not be provided, even according to, what we may falsely imagine, the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated.
It is more than likely that in the above passage Bagehot had John Stuart Mill very Page 33 ----------clearly in his mind’s eye. In the preface to his Political Economy Mill expressed a judgment of Smith’s method less divergent from Bagehot’s than appears at first glance. In stating the aims of his own book, Mill says: The design of the book is different from that of any treatise on Political Economy Albion Small, Adam Smith and Modern Sociology, 34 which has been produced in England since the work of Adam Smith.
Adam Smith and Modern Sociology a Study in the Methodology of the Social Sciences by Albion Woodbury Small