Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sergio Cremaschi Shows Smithian Thought Alive and Well in Croatia

A reader of Lost Legacy, new to the Blog, wrote to me from Croatia, with a number of titles of academic papers he had written, showing him to be an accomplished and rounded Smithian scholar, unknown to me. What a find he has proved to be! One of his essays particularly caught my eye immediately: “Metaphors in the Wealth Of Nations” by Sergio Cremaschi, published in S. Boehm, Ch. Gierke, H. Kurz, R. Sturm eds. Is There Progress in Economics?, Cheltenham: Elgar, 2002, pp. 89-114.

It is the first paper that I have read, or been aware of, containing a scholarly treatment of the role of metaphors, including the invisible hand metaphor, in Smith’s works (all three of Astronomy [1795], Theory of Moral Sentiments [1759], and Wealth of Nations [1776]).

His references pointed me to several other authors of whom he quotes and comments upon (Vernon Foley, 1976, The Social Physics of Adam Smith, Purdue University Press; Philip Mirokowski, More Heat then Light: economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature’s Economics, Cambridge University Press; Vivienne Brown, 1994, Adam Smith’s Discourse, Canonicity, Commerce and Conscience, Routledge; Deidre McCloskey, 1998, The Rhetoric of Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, and several others in the Journal literature). Of these I have read Vivienne Brown’s book, but not (yet) the others. An omission I intend to remedy just as soon as I am mobile again or perhaps seek them on Amazon, if in funds.

His assessment of the invisible hand in Wealth Of Nations is a literary analysis, within the context of general and his own literary theory. It is more sophisticated than my efforts as an economist but broadly places metaphors, as Smith expressed them in his Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, [1762-3] 1983, Oxford University Press.

Two other articles from Sergi Cremaschi are as follows:

'Merchants, Master-Manufacturers and Greedy People' [review-essay of D.N. McCloskey’s, "The Bourgeois Virtues. Ethics for an Age of Commerce"], History of Economic Ideas, 15\2 (2007), pp. 143-154
Newtonian Physics, Experimental Moral Philosophy, and the Shaping of Political Economy, in R. Arena, Sh. Dow, M. Klaes eds., Open economics, Oxford: Routledge, 2009, pp. 73-94.

I hope this talented scholar finds new readers in the English-speaking part of the international band of scholars. His work could prise open the rather closed minds of those smitten with the invented myths of Adam Smith’s lost legacy.

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