Wang, Jackie: Christian Garve (1742-1798)’s translation of the Wealth of Nations - A Consideration on the Import of British Ideas into 18th century Germany.

18th century Germany was a developing country if compared with Britain or France. Her intellectuals endeavored to introduce in haste ideas to the society through translation. Christian Garve, the main target of this research, rendered Adam Smith’s the Wealth of Nations into German language in 1794. Though the common reception of this work among his contemporary Germans focused primarily on its politico-economical theories, Garve instead appreciated the writing style of it -clarity and brevity- the most. How to explain this discrepancy? In fact, Garve’s consistent interest in the writing style of the Wealth of Nations probably relates to his vision of the so-called popular philosophy: philosophy should be intelligible to common people and cope with daily concerns of them. There are two grounds of argument for this claim. First, based on a scrutiny of Garve’s Germanized Wealth of Nations, it is clear that he gave priority to customs of German language rather than to linguistic accuracy. Second, Garve translated work of Adam Ferguson, one representative of the Scottish School of Common Sense and works on British Aesthetics by Edmund Burke and Alexander Gerard. In this sense, Garve’s choices of British works, namely his inclusion and exclusion of British ideas on moral philosophy, surely associate his scheme of popular philosophy with the Scottish Enlightenment. I will in this research elucidate how Garve tried to understand Smithian ideas through his translation and how his contemporaries comprehended these Scottish works. I believe that this research will certainly promote our deeper understandings of intellectual trans-border spread as one aspect of 18th century European Enlightenment.