Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Great Wheel of Debate on Adam Smith is Turning

These past few weeks, I have noticed a number of references to the efforts I put into Adam Smith’s Lost Legacy Blog. So far, I have only commented on those that might be of interest to readers. However, as the number of references and citations, plus an increasing number of private correspondents [gavinK9 AT gmail Dot com) often raise important issues, I think it appropriate – and not too immodest – to mention them on Lost Legacy.

Presently, for instance, I am preparing to respond to a long debate between reader on aspects of Adam Smith’s writings on the undermining of feudal governance. I intend to publish my response [without naming the reader(s)]. This morning a correspondent sent a comment to which I shall answer later.

It occurred to me that the above mentions, picked up in Google, are of interest in themselves, because they indicate that the Lost Legacy message – and not just on the IH Metaphor – indicates some, albeit small, recognition of its scholarly importance, especially among up-coming junior faculty, that previously was confined to a few notable senior faculty. The Lost Legacy theme, plus their own readings, are beginning to come to the surface, which augurs well, perhaps, for the future recognition of the authentic, not the wholly invented, Adam Smith.

Therefore, I shall mention here any of those I see on my daily sweeps.

Today’s is:

Daniel Kuehn, a doctoral candidate in economics at American University, with a master's degree in public policy from George Washington University . He writes “Daniel Kuehn’s Blog HERE

That line "the wheel of commerce" is borrowed (and slightly paraphrased) from Adam Smith of course. Before Smith, similar language was used by the mercantilist Daniel Defoe. Talking about "wheels of commerce" and "wheels of circulation" wasn't the only contribution Defoe made to economic lingo... the most famous, of course, being Robinson Crusoe! Now, it wasn't Defoe that gave it its modern usage by economists. That had to wait for macroeconomists who were conceiving of a simple economic model where the same agent invests and consumes.

Defoe also had another line that Adam Smith later used (who knows if he "got it" from Defoe). Anyone know which one? Gavin Kennedy has written about it before

I won’t spoil Daniel’s little teaser about the other line that Smith may have ‘got’ from Daniel Defoe (readers who know, should post their suggestion to Daniel Kuehn - follow the above link).

His ‘slightly paraphrased’ quote from Smith is, of course, that Smith wrote of the “great wheel of circulation” in Wealth Of Nations (WN II.ii.14: 289; II.ii.23: 291; II.ii.39: 296).



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