Thursday, August 02, 2012

Apologies: a Busy Week

Today it is Thursday.   My last full post was Monday.  Why this uncharacteristic non-Stakanovite slackness?   Well, I have returned home to Edinburgh from summer holidays in France, and straight into a blizzard of work from Edinburgh Business School (from which I "retired" in 2005), mollified to some extent by most of it having to do with EBS's work to raise the funds from private, not public, sources to renovate Panmure House (where Adam Smith lived from 1778 to 1790).
Other pressing matters include my speech for next week's Adam Smith Colloquium in Kirkcaldy, where Adam Smith was born in 1723, and where he lived before going to Glasgow University in 1737.  Smith returned to Kirkcaldy in 1746 and lived there again until1748.  He returned again in 1767 and stayed there with his mother until 1773, mainly writing The Wealth Of Nations in her house (demolished in the 19th century – only the garden space fronting onto the sea and its walls remain as they were in the 18th century.
The Colloquium is organised by the new Adam Smith Global Foundation.  I am speaking at the Colloquium on 7 August on “Panmure House and its importance for the Scottish Enlightenment", along with many distinguished Smithian scholars from the USA, Canada, Europe, to an invited audience (7th and 8th August). [Press Release HERE]
Beyond that important event, I am working on several other pressing matters, including (different) chapters on Adam Smith for four book projects to be published during the next 3 to 18 months, starting with Oxford UP, Princeton UP, Cambridge UP and Palgrave-Macmillan.
Mostly though, my desk is piled with other “urgent” requests for overdue responses.
Now I am a mere journeyman in retirement, nominally, at least, with time to spare, which leads me to ask: “How do top-flight academics get through their work loads, given the many pressures on them publish or perish, plus their faculty responsibilities, and all the diversions of family, relatives, and friends - and, of course, the agencies of Government?”


Blogger airth10 said...


I feel I should write something for your return.

Earlier I was thinking of the word 'megillah'. I don't want to appear disrespectful but you just gave us a megillah, "a lengthy, detailed explanation or account" of what you've been doing and going to do.

It should be fun at the Adam Smith event. Since Smith was basically a moral philosopher I am assuming people will discuss morals. Capitalism has done more with morals than anything else, except maybe wars.

5:45 pm  
Blogger Blue Aurora said...

Congratulations on being selected as the speaker inaugurating the launch of the Adam Smith Global Foundation!

But out of curiosity, Gavin Kennedy, have you ever considered writing a paper detailing whatever influence Adam Smith may have had on John Maynard Keynes?

John Maynard Keynes DID read The Wealth of Nations, but as far as I know, he didn't read The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

10:29 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Blue Aurora
I have quite an agenda of projects at I have not looked for new angles. When I was a student Keynes was the main consensus though Friedman was coming onto our attention. Keynesian public finance dominated when I graduated. but the only reference to Smith was as a figure in what was called "classical" economics and its "errors", supposedly corrected by Keynes. One colleague, Jim Trevithic (I think), nicknamed Jim 'Terrific', was an active critic of Keynes.
I have read that Keynes, months before he died, repealed his objections to the "invisible hand" (as popularised by Paul Samuelson).
Hence, I have not taekn much notice of Keynes. Perhaps I may take another look, some time, depending on how much time I have ...

4:57 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Thank you for your observation.
I was trying to explain why had neglected to post, thinking dome detail may excuse my apparent (otherwise) neglect.
I am looking forward very much to the Kirkcaldy meeting and my contribution required much detailed.
"Fun" does not quite capture the content of my anticipation.
Certainly Smith's moral philosophy will be much discussed.
I am not sure what your last sentence means.

5:09 pm  
Blogger airth10 said...

Gavin: "I am not sure what your last sentence means."

airth10: " Capitalism has done more with morals than anything else, except maybe wars."

What I should have said is that capitalism has done more 'for' our morals.

Our moral development has come through our being engaged with others, not through dictates or scriptures. It follows that no other endeavor has engaged us more highly or seriously than capitalism, except perhaps war, in our moral development.

I don't think Adam Smith made this connection, that expanded economic engagement would eventually yield a more conscientious moral world. We are by no means perfect in our moral behavior. But I suggest it would be far worse if it wasn't for our economic engagement in the free markets of capitalism.

4:00 pm  

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