By Say J.-B.
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Extra resources for A Treatise on Political Economy or the Production, Distribution and consumption of Wealth
Smith has not been backward in acknowledging the advantages he had derived from his intercourse with the most enlightened men in France, and from his intimate correspondence with his friend and countryman Hume, whose essays on political economy, as well as on various other subjects, contain so many just views. After having shown, as fully as so rapid a sketch will permit, the improvement which the science of political economy owes to Dr. Smith, it will not, perhaps, be useless to indicate, in as summary a manner, some of the points on which he has erred, and others which he has left to be elucidated.
How, indeed, was it possible to become acquainted with the causes of national prosperity, when no clear or distinct notions had been formed respecting the nature of wealth itself? The object of our investigations must be thoroughly perceived before the means of attaining it are sought after. * In inquiring into the origin of value, Dr. Smith found it to be derived from the labour of man, which he ought to have denominated industry, from its being a more comprehensive and significant term than labour.
This is an error. A more exact analysis demonstrates, as will be seen in the course of this work, that all values are derived from the operation of labour, or rather from the industry of man, combined with the operation of those agents which nature and capital furnish him. Dr. Smith did not, therefore, obtain a thorough knowledge of the most important phenomenon in production; this has led him into some erroneous conclusions, such, for instance, as attributing a gigantic influence to the division of labour, or rather to the separation of employments.