Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Wealth of Nations

In celebration of Wealth of Nations being published this day in 1776, The Freeman has an interesting article on the use of the phrase "Invisible Hand" in Adam Smith's political and economic philosophy. Here's an amusing excerpt:
A fascinating discovery uncovered by Daniel Klein, professor of economics at George Mason University, may shed light on this debate. Based on a brief remark by Peter Minowitz, the Santa Clara University political philosopher, that the “invisible hand” phrase lies roughly in the middle of both of Smith’s books, Klein made preliminary investigations. He next recruited Brandon Lucas, then a doctoral student at Mason, to investigate further. Klein and Lucas report in Economic Affairs (March 2011) that they found considerable evidence that Smith “deliberately placed ‘led by an invisible hand’ at the centre of his tomes” and that the concept “holds special and positive significance in Smith’s thought.”
The idea they're getting at? Wealth of Nations has a chiastic structure, with "invisible hand" in the center!

You've seen it all when people are doing Midrash on Adam Smith.

1 comment:

  1. Is it a mighty invisible hand and an outstretched invisible arm? :)


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