Essays on Philosophical Subjects


Category: Philosophy and Science & Mathematics

By Adam Smith

Published in 1795

Reference #0317

First Edition. “Essays on Philosophical Subjects” was published posthumously in 1795 after Adam Smith’s death in 1790, from previously unpublished material prepared by Smith’s literary executors: Joseph Black, a physicist and chemist, and James Hutton, a geologist. The work is a history of astronomy from the beginning of time through Smith’s lifetime and includes his views on physics and metaphysics in antiquity.

“Essays on Philosophical Subjects” consists of three works: “The History of Astronomy,” “The History of Ancient Physics,” and “The History of Ancient Logics and Metaphysics.” “The History of Astronomy” is the largest work of the three and is believed to have been written in the 1750s and includes the first-known use of the “invisible hand,” a term Smith later used to describe the unintended social benefits of an individual’s selfish actions.