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How is the ‘Invisible Hand’ Working at the Level of Human Nature? -Seeking an Answer by Comparing the Theories of Human Nature of Smith and Butler-

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2020, (77), pp.217-246
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.077.08
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 17, 2020
  • Accepted : May 4, 2020
  • Published : May 31, 2020

Kim, Gyeongmin 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’, which has made significant contributions to the formation of the economic and political order of contemporary society, has recently been interpreted as ‘divine providence’ by several researchers who focused on the religious context of Smith’s thought. These studies, however, do not pay much attention to the role played by individuals in the process of providence being implemented socially. Joseph Butler, a renowned theologian and moralist in eighteenth-century Britain, systematically presented the way divine providence is embodied within human nature with a relatively natural and secular language and an empirical approach, unlike conventional Christian theologians. This paper, by comparing Smith’s theory of human nature with Butler’s, attempts to reconstruct the way Smith understood how providence works at the level of human nature, and explore the ethical implications underlying his concept of ‘invisible hand’.

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