Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Recently, over the seasonal break for New Year I noticed a decided drop in comments from readers. I was perplexed by this but could not see what was the matter (apart from indifference among readers!).
I have also noticed than my Blog's layout on screen appears to be different.
Today, almost by accident, I noticed differences in layout that appear to have been introduced by Google without explanation, so I decided to follow clues.
Lo and behold, I found a new route to Comments 'awaiting moderation'. 
So I read them pressed 'publish' of some of them and 'deleted' the occasional attempts at sending messages of no interest to me, nor I suspect to readers (who if they are searching for sex partners or related supplies, should look elsewhere).
Hence, apologies if you sent Lost Legacy a relevant Comment recently and it did not appear on the Blog. 
I welcome relevant Comments, critical or otherwise.
Gavin Kennedy

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Richard Ebeling, a professor of economics at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. writes: HERE 
He was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland on June 5, 1723 and he died on July 17, 1790, at the age of 67. His father died two months after he was born, and was raised by his mother, with whom he remained close throughout her life.”
In this long but informative article, Richard Ebeling makes some very good pointers for those less acquainted with the details of Adam Smith’s life or with his large intellectual contributions to knowledge. I recommend that readers follow the link and enjoy a tour round Smith’s Ouvre (part 1 - part 2 is to follow later).
I cannot help correcting the biographical error in bold above:
His father died two months after he was born.’
The biographical facts are quite different. His father, Adam Smith, died on 9th January 1723. Young Adam Smith was born on 23 June, 1723 (assuming the date of his baptism was the same date as his birth, as was the custome with sickly new borns).. Therefore, his father unfortunately died when young Adam’s mother was three months into her pregnancy, not ‘two months after his son was born’.

See Adam Smith’s most authoritative biographer, by Ian Simpson Ross: The Life of Adam Smith, 2nd edition, 2010 p. 2, Oxford University Press


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!

Thursday, December 08, 2016


Gregory Norton posts (7 November) on QUORA 

Gregory Norton, Engineer with interests in economics and the Philosophy of Liberty
“I have always interpreted Smith’s use of the term “invisible hand” as a simile for describing how a free market operates rather than as a synonym for “free market” or a metaphor for an identifiable process. The two usages (simile and metaphor) are similar, but there are differences. If the term is a simple metaphor for the process, then there is a process that can be identified and examined. If it is a simile there may be no process to be found, merely a general characteristic of results.
“The game progressed guided by an invisible hand” invites discovery and examination of that guide, metaphorically called an “invisible hand”. The invisible hand could be a coach using his radio or extensive practice and rehearsal.
“The game progressed as if guided by an invisible hand” invites no such discovery as there is no assertion that there is a guide, merely that a guide would achieve similar behavior and results.
“The children searched for Easter eggs as if guided by frantic invisible squirrels” is a simile that describes children running about randomly, achieving random results.
“The children searched for Easter eggs guided by frantic invisible squirrels” indicates that there are frenzied rodents somewhere, even if their methods of guidance (telepathy, chattering in code) are not apparent and the rodents are out of sight.
Samuelson and many others seem to be looking for frantic squirrels and, finding none, denounce Smith’s idea entirely.
So… Was Smith asserting that there really are frantic squirrels (invisible hands) or was he describing behavior and results by use of a simile? Smith was not clear; the two passages in The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments indicate to modern readers that Smith actually believed in a particular process, which he called “an invisible hand”. However, Smith wrote 250 years ago and writing styles have changed.
Smith used the phrase “led by an invisible hand” twice in two books of over 1100 total pages, did not use the term “invisible hand” anywhere else in the two books, did not elaborate on the process in either book, and the overall contents of his works indicate, to me, that he meant it to be a simile.
I think Samuelson misread Smith. Smith did not claim there was an identifiable process.”
Gregory Norton explores some interesting thoughts on Adam Smith’s use of the metaphor of ‘an invisible hand’ in his two works, ‘Moral Sentiments’ (1759) and in his monumental ‘Wealth of Nations’, 1776.
However, he ignores Adam Smith’s earlier contributions in his little noted, ‘Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres’, delivered, first as public lectures in Edinburgh from 1748 to 1751 and then in the University of Glasgow, as a Professor, from 1752-63. Incidently, his Lectures on Rhetoric were his longest-running series of lectures and pre-date his writing  11 years later on moral philosophy (1759), and on political economy (1776), 28 years later.
In short, Adam Smith was an authority on rhetoric long before he used ‘an invisible hand’ as a metaphor and he was well aware of the distinctions between a simile and a metaphor. Gregory Norton’s speculations are misleading. Smith’s writings are replete with metaphors and he made his early youthful claims to academic fame by a thorough critique of classical Latin rhetoric then taught in UK schools and was part of a movement generating an English language Rhetoric. Smith was also an accomplished scholar in Latin and Greek.
Smith was also very clear on the role of metaphors and when they were to be used. No metaphor “can have any beauty unless it is so adapted that it gives due strength of expression to the object to be described and at the same time does this in a more striking and interesting manner”  (Smith in LRBL”, Lecture no. 6, p. 29). 
Smith said that the merchant was ‘led by an invisible hand’ (a metaphor) and he did not use the words “as if” - two words that are a clear sign of the use of a simile. Neither was Smith speaking theologically. The merchant's motivated actions in investing his capital locally (to avoid foreign risks of investment) also had the consequence that he added to domestic investment and employment. 
Intentionally doing one thing - avoiding foreign risks -  unintentionally added to domestic investment and thereby benefited the public good.

Gregory Norton is mistaken in his  interpretation of Smith’s meaning.

Monday, December 05, 2016


Last week I was delighted to sign a contract with a major publisher for my new book on Adam Smith, of which more details will be forthcoming in due course.
This has been in progress to some extent while I was working on a long paper a year or more ago but ill-health prevented me finishing it. 
At the time several readers of Lost Legacy wrote asking if they could obtain a copy, which I was delighted to confirm. However, I had to put that project aside recently both because of my health and because I was already envisaging my undertaking a more ambitious project of a full book.
Recently that project has been underway and I was modestly pleased with some draft chapters which, as I revised them, I decided to submit a proposal for new book, genuinely containing new material that deserves a wider readership.
My Blog, has continued throughout recent months and shall do so in the immediate future, though on a slightly new basis. I shall not be commenting daily on the flood of media and scholarly articles, spurious claims and assertions about the so-called invisible hand as attributed wrongly to Adam Smith. One problem is the number of suspicious websites emanating from Russia (ru) that claim to be about the invisible hand but with suspect provenance.
Frankly, my attention is to be directed elsewhere, while I write my new book’s manuscript over the next six months. 
I shall post brief headline statements about things I notice on the web. 
However, to the positive. My new book will round off my scholarly endeavours on Adam Smith. I shall post news of the progress of The Book on Lost Legacy from time to time…. 

Gavin Kennedy