Sunday, July 06, 2008

Adam Smith's Statue Events 4

After the unveiling by Nobel prize winner in economics, Professor Vernon Smith, who made an excellent speech notable by including comments on Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments, as well as Wealth Of Nations, I attend the reception and buffet arranged in the City Council building (formerly where Adam Smith worked as a Commissioner of Customs), I was chairman of a meeting held at the National Library of Scotland where a small but significant exhibition of some of Adam Smith’s letters, first editions and early translations of his books, and original letters from and to him were shown.

The role of archivists of nationally, and this case internationally, important original materials were exhibited. Having used the NLS resources on several occasions, I could not refrain from mentioning how the staff of NLS compared favourably with my experiences 30 years ago at the then British Museum Reading Room. NLS truly is a National Treasure.

The first speaker I introduced was Dr Iain Gordon Brown, the Principal Curator of manuscripts, who is also a specialist in 18th century materials. He obviously knows Adam Smith and his Works and his speech was extremely well delivered and received.

He was followed by Professor Chris Berry, Co-director of the Adam Smith Research Foundation at Glasgow University, who delivered in 25 minutes the mos knowledgeable summary of the main ideas in Moral Sentiments and I am sure that those among the audience who had not been exposed to the Impartial Spectator before, or had found it difficult to comprehend if they had, were by the end of his short speech well-enough informed to make a positive judgement of its merits. I allowed several questions for about 10 minutes and these were of excellent quality – I could have taken four of five more – who says philosophy is dull? – but time ran out, having started twenty minutes late due to late arrivals. He had a small audience of eager listeners after the meeting closed, continuing his ‘seminar’ on Smith’s philosophy.

Professor Chris Berry has organised a conference in Glasgow in March to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments (which I shall post about on Lost Legacy as soon as I have full details – its preliminary agenda and speakers suggest a conference for which there will be high demand).

With that meeting my Statue celebrations ended. I had to get back to grading a box of MSc exam papers for my former day job and these have to be in by Monday.

Overall, the celebrations, organised by the Adam Smith Institute were a magnificent success, and a large thank you to Eamonn Butler, Director of ASI is in order.

Press coverage about Adam Smith's statue in Scotland and the rest of the UK has been high.


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