Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic Ethic, and Adam Smith

Journal of Business Ethics 95 (1):89 - 96 (2010)
Abstract
In The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) Adam Smith draws on the Stoic idea of a Providence that uses everything for the good of the whole. The process is often painful, so the Stoic ethic insisted on conscious cooperation. Stoic ideas contributed to the rise of science and enjoyed wide popularity in Smith's England. Smith was more influenced by the Stoicism of his professors than by the Epicureanism of Hume. In TMS, Marcus Aurelius's "helmsman" becomes the "impartial spectator," who judges actions in terms of the way they are seen by others. This is the key to justice, without which society collapses. Business school students should be taught that Smith's "invisible hand" is best understood as a universal rationality that uses just actions for the benefit of the whole
Keywords Stoic   logos  Christian Stoicism  impartial spectator  invisible hand
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