Monday, November 16, 2009
Stuff you can't make up
Many Smith scholars have noted the oddity of taking "The Invisible Hand" as an important theme in Smith, given that it appears in one short passage in The Wealth of Nations and one short passage in the Theory of Moral Sentiments (and in the second case means something altogether different from the meaning it is taken to have today and arguably has in the first case). Gavin Kennedy has made this point on his blog. Emma Rothschild's book, Economic Sentiments, makes it as well. But a new paper by Daniel Klein argues, contrarily, for the centrality of the concept to Smith's thought, and here, I kid you not, is why: these two tiny passages each occur at the exact midpoint of the books in which they appear!!!