Adam Smith Did Not Invent Economics

economist Adam Smith Did Not Invent Economics Contrary to the popular myth, the science of economics was not invented by Adam Smith. We can find the early foundations of economics in the writings of medieval figures like Saint Bernardine, Saint Antoninus, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and other early Scholastics.

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They prepared the way for Spain’s School of Salamanca (1500-1650), which began to shape such “conceptual milestones as the subjective theory of utility, the quantity theory of money, opportunity cost, and liquidity preference” in terms often clearer than those of the modern economists who followed them.1

That is to say, many elementary economic principles claimed as modern can be traced back to medieval or Scholastic times. As economic historian Raymond de Roover points out, Adam Smith’s “‘thunderous broadside’ against monopolies can be traced back to Aristotle and Roman law, and especially to the Middle Ages when a theory of monopoly was truly formulated. The Schoolmen’s aversion to monopoly hinges on their doctrine of just price.”2

Taken from Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go, p. 136.
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1 Julius Kirshner, ed., Business, Banking and Economic Thought in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Selected Studies of Raymond de Roover (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), 20.

2 Ibid., 21. It should be noted that Adam Smith acknowledges no such sources although the ancient condemnation of monopolies was the common heritage of Western civilization and widely taught in his time.