Friday, June 23, 2006

Apologies! Diverted by Smith's Value Theory.

I looked up just now and noticed to my horror that I have not posted since Wednesday. Shock, horror! This will never do. I read many economics blogs everyday and notice some post quality contributions several times a day. But they are often fulltime academics, with time to read other blogs, the msm and the latest books.

As a retired academic, I have little time for all the things I have to do, including writing a book which is reaching a critical mass (I find a mass of criticisms when I read over what I have completed so far) and deadlines approach too fast, as do the years that pass.

For example, I had been reading this past two days my Chapter on Smith's (alleged) labour theory of value, and when you return to a subject after a while you notice things passed over last time. I noticed, as I checked over the references to Wealth of Nations, just how mixed up his two key chapters were (V and VI). He keeps switching contexts. Re-reading the chapters over for the nth time, it occurred to me that a large part of the problem of interpreting Smith on value and price is caused by his less than perspicuous (his favoiurite word) presentation of his two distinct models of value - one for the 1st Age of Man, the hunter, and the other for the 3rd and 4th Ages of Man, Agriculture and Commerce. That this probably contributed to him being labelled, incorrectly in my view, as a labour theory of value economist, it is important that in an evaluation of his contribution to the history of thinking in economics, I should seriously tackle, once again, what exactly he did say about value theory. I am reasonably happy with the result, and I hope in due course you will be too.

Now, I do not know what caused him to be so unclear, but it set me thinking and to re-drafting the earlier way I had explained it. This took me the last two days, and as I am here alone (the family is back in Edinburgh for three weeks) I lost track of others things I should be doing as well - like grading two hundred MBA scripts that arrived yesterday by courier (in retirement I still grade these papers until the end of 2007, though this lot are wanted back in ten days), plus my regular household and garden chores).

I do not see how this problem is going to get easier in the next few weeks, so apologies if my contributions are less frequent, though I will make every effort to tackle issues as they come up.


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