Saturday, December 17, 2016


From an Adam Smith essay on astronomy on a essay service website: HERE  
A mishmash of speculative facts and fictions about Adam Smith. 
Factual errrors:
Adam Smith did not graduate from either Glasgow University or Oxford (Balliol College) University.
Smith’s scholarship (Exhibition) to Balliol required candidates not to have graduated anywhere else. After 6-years he left Balliol on compassionate leave to return to Kirkcaldy where is widowed mother lived. The 1745-6 Jacobite uprising in Scotland had swept through Kirkcaldy and the suppression of the Jacobite army by Hanoverian troops in 1746 added further unsettlement to Smith’s concerns about his mother’s safety and well-being. 
Smith was very disappointed with the lack of intellectual quality exhibited by the then Balliol Faculty, who had “given up even the pretence of teaching” according to Smith.
Smith did not return to Balliol to complete his 10-year Exhibition. He did not graduate at all. Many years later, Balliol formally ‘graduated’ the by then famous Adam Smith, presumably to ‘claim’ him as one of their’s. 
Likewise, Glasgow ‘graduated’ Smith - it also awarded him a Doctorate (D.Litt) for his internationallly famous published Work, Moral Sentiments, 1759 and Wealth of Nations, 1776. A later edition of his Wealth of Nations carried on its title page reference to his Glasgow D. Litt degree.
Smith’s History of Astronomy was published posthumously in 1795. The reference to Jupiter’s (the Roman God's) ‘invisible hand’ was not metaphoric - it referred to a belief among Romans at the time that Jupiter actually existed and fired thunderbolts (lightning strikes) at ‘enemies of Rome’ by pointing his finger at them. Images of Jupiter firing lightning strikes appeared on coins throughout the Roman empire.
In short, this reference had nothing to do with Smith’s other two (only) metaphoric references to ‘an invisible hand’ in his two books.

 In summary, this essay-writing site is woefully inadequate as a reliable source for users of its services. Caveat Emptor!


Blogger Paul Walker said...

Hi Gavin

Do you mean "Glasgow ‘graduated’ Smith - it also awarded him a Doctorate (D.Litt)"? The 1st edition of the Wealth of Nations has him listed as LLD (and FRS).

10:16 am  

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