Monday, January 07, 2008

Book Finished - More Blogging

This morning I sent of the 14 chapter + bibliography files for ‘Adam Smith: the moral philosopher and his political economy (General Editor, A. P. Thirlwall).

This work has dominated my working time for the past few months and particularly over the past six weeks as the final version took shape. This included losing 21,000 words to bring the total down to around 106,000.

Some repetition was eliminated and some additional examples from Smith’s Works were cut back (no doubt provoking critics to ask why I refer to this example rather than others). Also, I pruned several references to more recent material among modern journals, not that these featured strongly in my original text. Once you start discussing modern controversies in any detail, two things happen: the text grows in length prohibitively and you detract from what Adam Smith said in his context.

So much of modern commentary discusses Smith’s views (on growth, for example) that instead of being a source for Adam Smith’s legacy that it becomes a survey of modern views on issues in economics, ‘benefiting’, as it does, from 200 years of theory development, with the not irrelevant aspect of dealing with topics that Adam Smith could not possibly have had much to contribute.

I decided to tackle Adam Smith’s Wealth Of Nations not as an early textbook in economics – it was not anything like a textbook, despite allusions to it being so by a few economists, but was a work in the political economy of existing legislative interventions in Britain dominated then (and to some extent for much of the time since) by mercantile political economy.

Also, as an economist I have been sparing in respect of the rich agenda of moral philosophy, using only what I considered relevant for Smith’s political economy. I anticipate that modern philosophers will probably criticise me for my selection of philosophical topics, but my limited academic knowledge of philosophy would be a cause of criticism and perhaps justify the inevitable high dudgeon of some philosophers.

One consequence of completing the post-editorial comments on Adam Smith is that I am no longer diverted by the book from my Lost Legacy Blog (what do you mean, you had not noticed?) and I expect to return to regular posting forthwith.

I have several ideas for the future direction of Lost Legacy, especially as the upward trend in visits and views has continued, if with a slighter gradient recently. Noticeably, it has attracted more comments compared to the near silence of 2005-6, and topics from it have been mentioned on other respectable economics Blogs (not all of which I have mentioned). I hope both trends continue in 2008.


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