A CORRESPONDENT ASKS A QUESTION
A Correspondent asks (24 Dec, 2014):
“You've noted in previous posts that "the invisible hand" metaphor was mostly used by theologians prior to Smith. Can you cite some examples? Do you think that Smith was referring to "the invisible hand of God" guiding the worker's self-interest in inadvertently creating a better society?”
If you consult Peter Harrison’s article: “Adam Smith and the History of the Invisible Hand”, Journal of the History of Ideas, September, 2011, you will find over 40 references to authors in the 16th-18th centuries refering to the “invisible hand”, mainly in a theological context, as the “hand of God” and of divine origin.
My own paper’s views are different to the theological explanations, see: in the Journal of Economic Thought: Kennedy. “The Hidden Adam Smith in his Alleged Theology”, 2011, Sept., vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 385-402 and Kennedy, 2013: Chapter 22: ‘Adam Smith on Religion’, pp. 464-84. in Berry, Paganelli, Smith, eds.The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith. Oxford University Press.
I do not think Smith was referring to "the invisible hand of God" guiding the worker's self-interest in inadvertently creating a better society in his three references to the metaphor of “an invisible hand”. You can scroll down my Blog posts: www.adamsmithslostlegacy.blogspot.co.uk from 2014 back to 2005 to see my many explanations of Smith’s meaning of his use of the IH metaphor.
I can send to you a recent summary of my views if you want to see them. Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org