Saturday, March 24, 2007

Through a Glass Darkly

A grad student calling herself Jane Dark recommends a short reading list which includes the following:

“In small doses, of course, with poetry in between, to keep the economics from running together -- the reading list should include:

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book One, chapters 1-2 (about 10 pages, and including the illustration of the pins, the desire to save labour, and the desire to make a bargain which is advantageous to oneself, and not necessarily advantageous to the other party)

--and possibly a couple of the selected famous quotes, re: the invisible hand, etc.”


Comment
No, relax. I am not going to make a heavy response to such an innocent recommendation because I hope her readers follow her advice – without taking too much notice of her comments interpreting what Smith didn’t write!

Jane Dark might care to note that there is only one quotation using the metaphor of an invisible hand in Wealth of Nations, but scores illustrating exceptions where the unintentional actions of self-interested people do not cause benign consequences for society.

Visit Jane Dark's Blog at:

http://romecoloredglasses.blogspot.com/2007/03/malthus-and-smith-and-swedenborg-oh-my.html

1 Comments:

Blogger Jane Dark said...

I hadn't noticed this mention of my blog until this evening, but please, have no fear. I am well aware that there is only one quotation mentioning the invisible hand. And, as you say, of the examples showing that the unintentional actions of self-interested people do not cause benign consequences for society.

I can see how, given my quick reference to the invisible hand, you might have thought that I was teaching Smith with it as the dominant or overarching metaphor -- not my intention at all.

Still, I would be curious to know -- what excerpts from The Wealth of Nations would you recommend for introducing 1st and 2nd year college students to Smith?

6:09 a.m.  

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