Tuesday, July 07, 2009

From the Department of Thinking Aloud.

Sitting on 1,950 posts since Lost Legacy started in February 2005, I wonder sometimes where the Blog is going.

Is it a one-way street? On occasion we attract comments from some readers; mostly we don't, though, to be fair, I often get comments direct to my address, almost all of which are interesting and constructive, or asking for copies my papers.

I am about to start on my third book on Adam Smith, but I haven't started looking for a publisher, or even done more than sketched out a few themes, though what is there looks solid and worthwhile.

My paper on 'The Hidden Adam Smith in his Alleged Religiosity', presented in the University of Richmond (Virginia) and the University of Colorado in Denver in June, appears to have been well received (OK, a few colleagues had reservations), and I have been encouraged to write it as a possible journal article.

I am also about the complete my response to Dan Kline's critique of my paper on 'Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand: from metaphor to myth', which appeared in the May 2009 issue of Econ Journal Watch (for the Sepember issue).

This is quite a lot of academic, rather than merely polemical, work, which is prominent presently in Lost Legacy.

Which should get most of my attention? That's my dilemma.

I don't need to focus more on more serious academic work on Adam Smith for career reasons - I am retired and therefore don't need recognition for promotion or 'tenure' reasons, the latter of which I regard as a pernicious job-protection scheme, though it started in the UK to protect non-conformist academics from the prejudices of the dominating established Churches of England and Scotland, but which long ago lost its way as well as it original reason.

How true, much like mercantile political economy started in England as a crude form of commerical development and soon degenerated into the creation of monopolies and protection schemes against the interests of unimpowered consumers.

I want to continue researching but with no particular purpose in mind, other than it interests me; I want to continue Lost Legacy because I feel the injustice of our discipline to Adam Smith's legacy and angry that many colleagues just look the other way, though they do, as they should, know better.

I would be grateful for any advice from readers, either as comments on Lost Legacy or in correspondence to the address on the Blog's mast head.


Blogger Unknown said...

I, personally, love how you use Lost Legacy as an outlet for your scholarly contributions. I prominently featured the "pin factory" episode between yourself and Tim Harford in a piece I wrote on the future of scholarship.

I can't think of anything useful to say to you other than whatever direction you take this blog in, I will watch and enjoy it :)

11:09 pm  
Blogger michael webster said...

Let me make some quick points, with a promise to reflect on a larger picture.

1. First, your blog has outgrown blogger, and you need to spend a couple hundred of pounds to get a real blogging system, either wordpress or moveable type.

2. The reason for 1 is that we need to see the follow up from your remarks about certain bloggers and their misuse of the "invisible hand" metaphor. We have no idea if the authors are responding to you or not. And if they are not, your fans should inquire of them: why not?

3. So far, you have only been mostly negative - viz. Adam Smith never used the "invisible hand" metaphor to describe the entire market.

It would be more helpful, for each post, if you described exactly what "visible foot" mechanism Adam Smith would have suggested.

Let's have some positive mechanisms which Smith would have argued augment the market - specific examples for your specific rebuttals.

4. Don't give up. I am sure that you are making an important difference in the psyche of many naive libertarians.

5. Finally, work in some of your work on negotiating, clarifying some ideas about trades in the marketplace.

Just some thoughts, hope that they work for you.

2:35 am  
Blogger Simon Halliday said...

I find your blog interesting and, though I don't often comment, I read thoroughly most of the posts that you write (not something I do for all the blogs I read). Though I appreciate you policing misuses of Smith's work, I agree with Michael Webster that more speculation or theorizing on your part about Smith could be interesting, backed up, as your posts always are, with comprehensive quotations from Smith.

I would promote, however, you temporarily spending slightly less time on the blog to riposte Dan Klein's article in Econ Journal Watch. Though I did not find his response convincing, I believe that the core message you have promoted on your blog, i.e. the 'invisible hand' as metaphor not law, would be best served by continuing that debate both within academia and within the blogosphere. There are far too many academics who are sloppy with their use of 'the invisible hand'.

One area into which I think it could be interesting would be for you to expand, would be the use of Smith in C19th and early C20th economics and political economy: work by Pareto, Walras, Marshall, and the movement from Classical economics of the Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Mill kind to the equilibrium theory of the C20th. Maybe taking a broader view on history of economic thought, with Adam Smith at the centre of the picture.

Keep up the good work, I appreciate it greatly.

4:57 am  

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