The first major book that Adam Smith wrote was not The Wealth of Nations but The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Although I have just begun it (one of my summer goals is to read it all), I needed to get no further than Part 1, Section 1, Paragraph 1 to be amazed, and to imagine what our marketplace might look like if the book’s opening words were the first words studied in business school, and the first words that opened all corporate board meetings:
“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”
“To feel much for others and little for ourselves… to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent, affections constitutes the perfection of human nature, and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety.” (Part 1, Section 1, Paragraph 5)
If that is the moral underpinning of the theory of The Wealth of Nations, if that is what could guide our lending and borrowing and building, our buying and selling, instead of the excessive interest in self, imagine what a world it would be!