Monday, July 09, 2007

Important Text From Francis Hutcheson Republished

Peter Klein at Organisations and Markets
an excellent economics Blog (8 July), reminds us that Liberty Fund * ( publishes this month Francis Hutcheson’s Philosophiae Moralis Institutio Compendiaria, with A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, at the ludicrously low price of GBP8.95 9 - about USD16!).

The ‘never to be forgotten’ Professor Hutcheson, was Adam Smith’s teacher at the University of Glasgow.

General Editor, Knud Haakonssen (an authority on the 18th century Enlightenment writes:

Hutcheson’s Institutio was written as a textbook for university students and it therefore covers a curriculum which has an institutional background in his own university, Glasgow. This was a curriculum crucially influenced by Hutcheson’s predecessor Gershom Carmichael, and at its center was modern natural jurisprudence as systematized by Grotius, Pufendorf, and others. . . . The Institutio is the first major [published] attempt by Hutcheson to deal with natural law on his own terms. . . . It therefore encapsulates the axis of natural law and Scottish Enlightenment ideas, which so many other thinkers, including Adam Smith, worked with in their different ways

First published in 1742, this is the 1745 edition, in both Latin and English, edited by Luigi Turco, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bolonga, Italy.

* A couple of years ago I met a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, who on hearing that I recommended the Liberty Fund edition of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, told me stiffly that he would never buy anything from Liberty Fund because of its ‘rightwing political leanings’.

Being familiar with the Works of Adam Smith, John Millar, Francis Hutchinson, Lord Kames and the Federalist Papers, I confess I have never noticed anything particularly ‘right wing’ (the good professor did not define what he meant by this appellation) in any of these books. As the professor had a North American accent, I assume he was talking about something related to politics in North America. It’s a funny old world…


Blogger Peter G. Klein said...

Thanks for the link to Organizations and Markets.

As for your North American colleague, he is probably confusing Liberty Fund's publishing arm, Liberty Press, with the Fund's other activities. Liberty Press produces new editions of important classics in political economy (of which the Skinner and Todd edition of WoN is the most famous) as well as newer collections and commentaries by people like Armen Alchian, E. G. West, and others. Nothing really "political" about this except the selection of titles.

Liberty Fund, the parent organization, also sponsors hundreds of private discussion seminars on economics, politics, history, literature, and a host of other disciplines. These conferences have a strong classical-liberal (not, in the US, the same as "right wing") orientation. Liberty Fund also produces, a valuable online resource for economic education.

7:46 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Thanks Peter for clearing that up. I still recommend people to buy the Liberty Fund's editions of Adam Smith's books and any of the other titles they publish.

What struck me as odd in our conversation was that earlier we had discussed (because I always raise the subject with academics at either Edinburgh or Glasgow) the refusal of chairs to David Hume.

The professor of philosophy was in agreement that the treatment of Hume was 'regrettable', especially because of the religious prejudice of Church ministers against him, who exercised their considerable influence to stop his appointment.

Yet minutes later, as a Professor, he was exercising his influence on dissuading me (and presumably his students) from purchasing important texts from a publisher with which he held hostile views.

The irony was clearly beyond him.

Thanks for explaining the details.

5:59 am  

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