The Infidel and the Professor

The Infidel and the Professor – David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought
by Dennis Carl Rasmussen 2017

About the Author
Dennis C. Rasmussen is a political theorist at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. His books include The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought, which was shortlisted for the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award and named a book of the year in The Guardian, Bloomberg, Project Syndicate, Australian Book Review, and Five Books; Fears of a Setting Sun: The Disillusionment of America’s Founders, which was named a best politics book of the year in the Wall Street Journal; and, most recently, The Constitution’s Penman: Gouverneur Morris and the Creation of America’s Basic Charter. For more, see

About the Book
“Adam Smith and David Hume were two of the world’s greatest thinkers. The joy of their friendship infuses every page of this marvelous book, which will make you love them both, as thinkers and people. If only one could have been at one of Hume’s dinner parties!”―Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize–winning economist

“A remarkable combination of page-turner and serious intellectual history, The Infidel and the Professor is enormously enlightening and impossible to put down.”―William Easterly, author of The Tyranny of Experts

“One of The Australian Review’s 2017 Books of the Year”

“One of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2017”

“Selected for Bloomberg View’s “Must-Reads of 2017: From Space to Chinese Noir””

“One of Project Syndicate’s Best Reads in 2017 (chosen by Kaushik Basu)”

“Shortlisted for the 2018 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, Phi Beta Kappa Society”

The story of the greatest of all philosophical friendships―and how it influenced modern thought

David Hume is arguably the most important philosopher ever to have written in English, but during his lifetime he was attacked as “the Great Infidel” for his religious skepticism and deemed unfit to teach the young. In contrast, Adam Smith, now hailed as the founding father of capitalism, was a revered professor of moral philosophy. Remarkably, Hume and Smith were best friends, sharing what Dennis Rasmussen calls the greatest of all philosophical friendships. The Infidel and the Professor tells the fascinating story of the close relationship between these towering Enlightenment thinkers―and how it influenced their world-changing ideas. It shows that Hume contributed more to economics―and Smith contributed more to philosophy―than is generally recognized. The result is a compelling account of a great friendship that had great consequences for modern thought.

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