Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

An Archaeology of Adam Smith‘s Epistemic Context

Vigo de Lima, Iara; Guizzo, Danielle


Iara Vigo de Lima

Danielle Guizzo


© 2015 Taylor & Francis. Adam Smith played a key role in Foucault‘s archaeology of political economy. This archaeology, which Foucault accomplished in The Order of Things, is the focus of this article. Foucault may have disagreed with the writings of the classical political economists but he widens our perspective through new possibilities of understanding. It is very illuminating to understand Smith‘s thinking as following a discursive practice that economic thought shared with the knowledge of living beings (natural history) and language (grammar). Foucault‘s archaeology highlights some ontological and epistemological conditions that shed light on some of the pillars of Smith‘s thinking: the centrality of exchange, the division of labour and the labour theory of value. The proximity between Newton and Smith is also examined in ontological and epistemological terms which can be understood through an investigation of that interdiscursivity practice. Beyond testing Foucault‘s considerations, our aim is to demonstrate their potential for the current scholarship of Smith‘s works. Foucault‘s archaeology of knowledge offers a range of elements that warrants greater analysis by historians of economic thought.


Vigo de Lima, I., & Guizzo, D. (2015). An Archaeology of Adam Smith‘s Epistemic Context. Review of Political Economy, 27(4), 585-605.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 6, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Feb 2, 2017
Journal Review of Political Economy
Print ISSN 0953-8259
Electronic ISSN 1465-3982
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 4
Pages 585-605
Keywords Adam Smith, archaeology, Foucault, interdiscursive practice,
Newtonian method, ontological and epistemological conditions
Public URL
Publisher URL

Downloadable Citations