Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pleasing Reception to Talk on Adam Smith's Lost Legacy

I went along to the National Gallery of Scotland to give today's talk on Adam Smith's Lost Legacy expecting a couple of dozen or so attendees, perhaps there by mistake thinking it was to be an 'illustrated lecture' as advertised in the Gallery's brochure.

The surpirse was that the Lecture Theatre filled up from ten minutes to go until well over a hundred people assembled in the plush surroundings of the Hawthenden Room and paid, largely, attentive notice to my speech, illustrated with only two slides of likenesses of Adam Smith. The rest was a 45 minute talk on Smith's philosophy from 'Moral Sentiments' and "Wealth of Nations", their links and how the set of impartial spectators, the impartial competitors and impartial jurists made Smith's a major contribution to the Scottish Enlightenment. The talk is posted under "Articles and Press" here. It is based on my talk to the InnerPeffray Libary on 12 October, with changes and clarifications.

The questions were excellent examples of people absorbing what had been done to Smith's Legacy, his moral philosophy and, yes, one on Shakespeare's invisible hand! I think the majority of the audience were unacquainted with Adam Smith and I hope the talk provokes some of them to find out more. Certainly, I think there is a rich seam of interest (and pride) in the Enlightenment and this augurs well for future attempts to make more of Edinburgh and Glasgow's contributions to that period (1740-1790).

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