Friday, October 31, 2014


Gary Belsky posts on TIME (Money Magazine) HERE
"The Father of Economics Was Also the World’s First Self-Help Guru — And Can Improve Your Life!"
"Adam Smith, the 18th century Scotsman best known for writing The Wealth of Nations, is widely misunderstood. His insights into technology, ambition, and friendship that are as relevant today as they were in 1759.
In his new book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, economics popularizer Russell Roberts explores what may be the world’s first self-help book, which is all the more remarkable for its author: Adam Smith, a.k.a., the18th century Scotsman known as the father of economics. But Roberts—host of the popular podcast EconTalk—focuses on Smith’s mostly forgotten book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, illuminating Smith’s insights into technology, ambition and friendship that are as relevant today as they were in 1759." 
Here are five surprising takeaways by Gary Belsky from his research.
1. Adam Smith is widely misunderstood.
2. Adam Smith was a Buddhist in the making.
3. Adam Smith understood consumers—in the   21st century.
4. Adam Smith was the first behavioral economist.
5. Adam Smith just wanted you to be happy.
Come on. Take a few minutes to follow the link and read how Gary Belsky summarises, briefly, what Russell Roberts makes of Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy. It is in fact recognisably Adam Smith’s moral philosopy in modern American English.  It might prompt you to read Smith 1759 book on ‘Moral Sentiments if you have not done so yet.
After all Russell Roberts admitted elsehwere that he had bought a copy of Smith’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments” (Liberty Press) and left it on his book shelf unread for 30 years!  
Now that Russell has finally read it, he makes his interpretations of Adam’s work admirably relevant to all readers, many of whom have also not yet read Smith’ s neglected earlier other work.

I could also add that many modern economists have not read Smith’s Wealth Of Nations (1776) either.  That’s why there are more myths about Adam Smith’s political economy than is sensible or safe to leave them influencing policies today.


Blogger Keeping It Simple said...

mWhen you say that economists don’t read Smith and we suffer because of it I couldn’t agree with you more. I haven’t read TMS but I have read WN and am fascinated with how easy to understand Adam Smith actually was and don’t understand the controversies having to do with what he meant in his famous spills. When I’m done studying WN I will read TMS but I will probably die before I get around to it. I feel that WN is so well written understanding what is said wise you don’t have to read anything else to understand your reading a genius that no one today understands not because he is un-understandable but he is not supposed to be understood, his system is not compatible with the system so you get a lot of confusing talk about what he was talking about. The invisible hand, by reading what Smith said in the spill and several others (“perfect liberty”, “altogether unnecessary”, corporate laws, etc.) is perfectly understandable as far as what needs to be done good government wise. Why don’t those of us that understand how problems are connected, those of us that have read Adam Smith and understand we are reading a genius, discuss his easiest spills that will help us fix our most serious problems? I know more than a dozen of them and I can discuss them in simple language too.

10:52 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Keeping it simple
Thank you for your comment.
I am not sure what you mean, however.
In my view you must understand his biography to appreciate his thinking, e.g.. Ian Ross, The Life of Adam Smith, Oxford, 2nd ed 2010.
TMS (6th edition) feeds into Wealth Of Nations.

3:24 pm  
Blogger Keeping It Simple said...

Thank you for responding to my comment.
You make a good point and I’m not going to question whether Ian Ross’s book is helpful in understanding the thinking of Adam Smith but I simply don’t have the time to read it. I have adopted the philosophy to be careful in your choice of reading or you will waste your eyes and still not understand your world as well as you could had you made optimum choices. Who is better to read to understand the mind of Adam Smith than David Hume? They were, I have read or by some estimates, the best writers of the era whether you are talking about Scotland, England, or even the continent helping the reader understand this world social science problem solving wise. I haven’t found anything as helpful understanding the development of Smith’s thinking on greed, as David Hume’s take on reason, it [reason] “…serves and obeys them, [the passions]” unless it is Hume’s “Of Liberty And Necessity” in the same book, TN. This is all, I believe, important capturing Smith’s Invisible Hand. I’m not saying I understand Hume’s system only that I am hung up on some of his points as they directly apply to the understanding of Smith’s system. In his later book Hume elaborated on his idea of Liberty and necessity and I am hung up on this fascinating snippet on the subject that obviously grabbed Smith’s attention; “… if I be not much mistaken, we shall find, that all mankind, both learned and ignorant, have always been of the same opinion with regard to this subject, and that a few intelligible definitions would immediately have put an end to the whole controversy.” To me this is amazing words, as they seem to challenge the readers, in this case all of educated Europe, to disagree.

9:30 am  

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