Sunday, October 10, 2010

Job Done

It's five days since I posted after the loss of the entire piece of work I was working on.

However, I finished my response to a paper on Adam Smith at the invitation of a refereed Journal this evening. The editor set the limit at 4,500 words, though the paper I responded to is 8,000 plus, but it's best to ‘play the hand you are dealt’.

Re-writing it from scratch from last Wednesday shoved the word count up to 7,900. It took me five days to cut it back to 4,674, anything less would kill my response, and my increasingly ruthless editing has had a cost. Before June I would have sat at the desk almost non-stop, but I have to take regular long breaks for exercise now.

Unlike a lot of authors on Smith, who make a feast from quoting recent authors who happen to agree with their lines on Smith, I refrained from quoting anybody who was not a contemporary of Smith, and relied for my argument, on the works of the man himself, surely the best witness for what he meant. As few authors agree with me on Smith’s work, the plethora of supporting authorities is rather slim.

However, on biographical matters I make an exception in checking facts in the definitive biography, The Life of Adam Smith, by Ian Simpson Ross, 2010, new second edition, from Oxford University Press (ISBN 978-0-19-955003-6). Until I received a copy, I used the first edition. The second is even better.

So many ‘Smithian’ scholars appear not to know very much about Smith’s life, that I could spend a lot of time persuading them to read Ian Ross’s first class work. As my debate with a distinguished colleague discussed some finer points of what he meant by the Invisible Hand metaphor in reference to some of his lesser known works (which I happen to be informed upon), I was not too fazed by some of the speculative assertions to which I was replying.

Nevertheless, I was grateful for one modern author’s work for one lead he provided, though I disagree completely with what he had used it for. Lesson: use your “opponents’” contributions where they give good leads.

Tomorrow, I send my paper to the editor. I’ll let you know his reaction.



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