Canonical works in the history of economic thought (Schumpeter et al.) tend to picture Smith as an anticipator of (neo)classical economics. Recent developments in economics plus the discussion around the bicentenary, however, promote a new reading of Smith. In this paper the canonical view on Smith will also be challenged. It will be argued that a new reading of Smith’s discourse on wealth, virtue and the commercial society is of relevance for today’s rethinking of the principles of economics.