Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thoughts on Smith

While reading Smith, I could not help but compare his ideas about the division of labor with Rousseau and Kant's ideas. First off, in Book I Chapter I, Smith defines a "lazy" man as someone who changes his professional tasks quite frequently, and therefore as someone who chooses not to master a particular job (which would result in a higher quality performance with a higher production rate) (Smith 4). While Smith views laziness as an individual's lack of ambition to master a task, Rousseau views laziness as a natural, positive characteristic that keeps an individual at peace; Rousseau would rather an individual neither bounce from task to task nor commit to and perfect a single one. In my opinion, I feel that Kant would disregard Smith's definition of laziness, for if man were to dedicate himself to one task and ignore his temptation to divert his energy, society would lack competition, and therefore would not progress. Kant, unlike Smith, argues that it is essential for man to explore his interests and pursue his ideas by competing with the interests and ideas of those around him. Smith's idea of progression is a little different-- he argues that society will progress once man hones in on a certain, specialized task, and discovers "easier and readier methods of performing" (Smith 4) that task. Both Kant and Smith would agree that the success of individual accomplishments eventually benefits the wealth of society as a whole.

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