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Abstract

Adam Smith's four-stage theory provides the framework for his writings on history. The fourth stage is the commercial epoch; the culmination of history in this stage is a key component in the conventional interpretation of Adam Smith as a prophet of commercialism. In two historical case studies Smith shows the capacity of commercial society to regenerate itself. This potent capacity suggests that commercial society is inevitable. At a certain point in time it also overcomes the major obstacles to its permanence. Smith's philosophy of history anticipates the end of history views of Kant and Hegel.

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