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date: 22 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

If Newton’s influence on Adam Smith has been widely acknowledged, research on the actual nature of this influence has been rather scarce. This chapter will sum up a line of investigation delving into this issue. It will be argued that Newton’s methodology is more complex than the generally accepted view of an axiomatic deductive or positivistic interpretation. The context of Newton’s influence during the turn of the seventeenth century and the eighteenth century will be assessed. It will be suggested that a British, and particularly Scottish interpretation of Newton, differs from the French reading of his legacy. The last section of this chapter will analyse Smith’s understanding of Newton arguing that the he was a sophisticated interpreter of Newton’s methodology. The conclusion is that the intellectual context of the Scottish Enlightenment’s interpretation of Newton plays a crucial role in explaining how Smith understood Newton’s legacy.

Keywords: Adam Smith, Newtonianism, methodology, context

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