Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some Good News That Cheered me Up

In EconJournal Watch HERE
I am informed today that an EJW count of downloads on my May 2009 paper is available: “Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand: From Metaphor to Myth” by Gavin Kennedy
Adam Smith and the ‘invisible hand’ are nearly synonymous in modern economic thinking. Adam Smith is strongly associated with the invisible hand, understood as a general rule that people in realising their self-interests unintentionally benefit the public good. The attribution to Smith is challengeable. Adam Smith’s use of the metaphor was much more modest; it was re-invented in the 1930s and 1940s onwards to bolster mathematical treatments of capitalism (Samuelson, Friedman) and to support innovative analysis by associating the metaphor with ‘spontaneous order’ (Hayek). The effect has been to ignore insightful explanations about how markets function as a process in favour of semi-mystical beliefs in imagined outcomes, wrapped in an isolated 18th-century literary metaphor, which does not explain anything.”
Looking it up, I was astonished to find that there has been a total of 16,329 downloads (all formats) since May 2009!
For this magnificent result – beyond my wildest expectations – I must thank Daniel B. Klein, professor of economics at George Mason University, Fairfax Virginia.   Following an across-the-dinner-table inconclusive discussion that we had at Balliol College, Oxford (which Adam Smith attended 1740-46) on our different perspectives of the significance of Adam Smith’s use of the metaphor of “an invisible hand”, I received an invitation from Daniel to conduct a discussion of our different perspectives of the “invisible-hand” metaphor in Econ Journal Watch, which he edited.  
I jumped enthusiastically to accept the invitation and sent him my paper to which he replied, plus many most helpful suggestions to make my arguments clearer – though he abandoned trying to translate my English into “American” spelling and grammar (as a Scot, English is the only foreign language I am fluent in but I draw the line at learning “American” …).
However, joking aside, Daniel’s courtesy and help in promoting ideas with which he was in deep disagreement, was in the highest standards of the Republic of Letters, and I hold him in the highest regard as a scholar, and I say truly, as a gentleman.
So, 16,000 plus, downloads! It is the 6th highest download of a EJW paper since 2009.
Well, well.   Should any reader be interested, they can download the paper from:


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