Don’t think so somehow

The home of the father of modern economics will reopen to visitors in the autumn. Heriot-Watt University is spending £4 million restoring Panmure House in Edinburgh’s Old Town, where Adam Smith spent his final years.

The 17th-century mansion has lain empty for several years, but soon visitors will be greeted by an original copy of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

Smith’s 1776 work influenced Karl Marx and was reputed to have a permanent place in Margaret Thatcher’s handbag.

It’s a hell of a weight for a book.

Also, as I understand it, it was a volume of Hayek she slammed down and said “That’s what we believe.”

39 comments on “Don’t think so somehow

  1. The Penguin edition comes in two volumes – one with 576 pages, the other with 672 pages. A hell of a bang when you slam it down I expect.

    Speaking of being not credible, rumour has it Harry is not going hunting because his American slut objects to the sport. This is going to work out so well.

  2. Marx read his way through much of the then British Museum’s library holdings. But back then the Economics bit was probably a sub section of Philosophy and not very large. Of course if he wanted advice on who to read his resident landlord Morgan Kavanagh was always there to help. He knew a lot about Scottish mythology etc.

  3. Shame Maggie didn’t have a copy of the elder of the Marx brothers’ tome in her handbag. With one swipe, could have put Tarzan Hestletine where he belongs in the mid 80s. In the obituary columns.

  4. Will Wee Jimmy Krankie, leader of the Democratic Republic of Caledonia, approve? And I think it was ‘ The Constitution of Liberty’.

  5. The Pelican abridgement is excellent and is not a ton weight. Come to that the Pelican abridgements of Gibbon and of The Origin of Species are also excellent and won’t hurt your back to carry around.

    Anyone who has not read all three, in abridgement if need be, has no serious claim to be educated. It would be like not having read a bit of Shakespeare, or lacking familiarity with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

  6. What a strange selection of works to define educated, dearieme. Had a go at reading Gibbon’s D&F. Curiously, in the room much of it was written. Long winded & incredibly tedious. There’s so much written about the mechanics of evolution, now, why go back to the guesswork? Shakespear’s useful for recognising the quotes scattered around by the pretentious, but for what else?
    Yes to any & all of the scientific principles & laws.

  7. As Adam Smith wrote in Wealth of Nations that land value uplift arose from good government encouraging productive activity and hence was the only legitimate source for taxation we can be sure that the uneducated Thatcher would not have carried a copy around.She contrived land value uplift minus taxation to encourage a home-owning middle class to vote for her and her successors , ruining the economy, probably permanently, as land value inflation and house prices have got completely out of hand.

  8. You have to be a deeply-considered and well-rounded form of complete twat in order to regard the economy as permanently ruined from its condition pre-Fatcher.

  9. PJF,

    I remember Britain in the 1970s. Before Thatcher, it was a happy place. We had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles…

    But let me explain to you how this works: you see, the corporations finance the evil Tories, and then the Tories are in charge being evil… and the corporations sit there in their… in their corporation buildings, and… and, and see, they’re all corporation-y… and they make money!

  10. And because Great Britain is so shit since 1979, no-one wants to come, charitable giving has plunged to a post-war low, obesity has vanished, and kwashiorkor cases are appearing at walk-in centres.
    Yeah right.

  11. There is a story to similar effect, beloved of biographers and documentary makers and perhaps a little too perfect to be actually true, that as Leader of the Opposition MT once cut short a presentation by a leftish member of the Conservative Research Department by fetching out a copy of The Constitution of Liberty from her bag and slamming it down on the table, declaring “this is what we believe”.

  12. The Constitution of Liberty has a much greater claim to be on the reading list of an educated person than does the bulk of Gibbon. The Duke of Gloucester had his number: “Another damned thick book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr. Gibbon?” That’s not to say D&F doesn’t have its moments. I like this description of Gordian II: “Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes, attested to the variety of his inclinations; and from the productions that he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than ostentation.” But that’s stuck in the middle of a sea of exceedingly dense prose.

  13. ‘We want to conserve, restore and reinvigorate Panmure House as a home for economic and social debate and the latest academic thinking.’

    No way they want an actual debate.

    ‘The total costs for the project are around £4 million.’

    From the looks of it, I don’t see how you could spend a half million on it. I wonder what Adam Smith would think of their spending ten times too much.

  14. @Tim W,

    Thanks. Didn’t know Adam Smith lived in Panmure House.

    Explains why he was buried in The Canongate Kirk Churchyard – where Zara & Mike married.

  15. @So Much For Subtlety, December 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Speaking of being not credible, rumour has it Harry is not going hunting because his American slut objects to the sport. This is going to work out so well.

    Harry O’Hewitt Windsor:
    Prince Harry Ditches Boxing Day Shoot to Please ‘Hunt-Hating’ Meghan Markle”

    36-year-old divorced Meghan Markle is a keen animal rights nutter campaigner and doesn’t like hunting in any form; and past publicly backed Hillary Clinton, attacked President Trump as “divisive” and “misogynistic”, and used social media to express her opposition to Brexit.

  16. On the Origin of Species is arguing a case with tons of evidence, fighting against enemies long since defeated. Reading it in the original form would be like reading Newton in the original — of archaic value only.

    If you want to be knowledgeable, then being up to date with modern trends seems more useful.

    I’m not flaming reading Principia Mathematica nor Gödel in the original either, and they still are key texts.

  17. “… attacked President Trump as “divisive” and “misogynistic”, and used social media to express her opposition to Brexit.”

    How did this happen? Makes the Duchess of Windsor look like a Saint. Prince Phillip needs a serious word with the lad.

  18. and used social media to express her opposition to Brexit

    Yarp. American lefties (and thick people who outsource their opinions to lefties) were/are just as butthurt about Brexit as our lefties are apoplectic about Dr. President Donald J. Trump.

    They might not know what the Common Agricultural Policy or the acquis communautaire are, and they may think the ERM was a prog rock band formed by Jeff Lynne, but they are dimly aware that the EU is a distant-yet-overbearing transnational bureaucracy run by noodly-armed soytwinks and titanium-jawed turbocunts, so it must be a Good Thing.

  19. ” Because it wasn’t guesswork; you seem to have missed the point.”

    No. Guesswork, dearieme. Good guess but still guesswork.
    It took the discovery of DNA to identify the mechanism behind genetics.
    Without the mechanism, Origin of Species doesn’t work. Randomly breeding, a population should converge towards an average, over a relatively short time. Not diversify over a much longer time. The survival of the fittest not happen, because all members of a population would be equally fit. All life on earth would be some primitive single celled organism. Or something even simpler

  20. “They might not know what the Common Agricultural Policy or the acquis communautaire are, and they may think the ERM was a prog rock band formed by Jeff Lynne”

    And yet again SS2 surpasses himself. Is there no peak to his talents?

  21. “bloke in spain
    December 28, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Randomly breeding,”

    That’s not evolution and that’s not what is described in Darwin’s book.

    Random mutation, coupled with selection pressures (in this case non-intentional environmental pressures) provides for a variety of forms which then either mesh with existing niches (and prosper – oftimes by ‘converging on a mean’, ie an optimal form for that niche), or they don’t breed fast enough to compete with other forms competing for the same niches and so die out.

    That’s the core of evolutionary theory and that’s what was described by Darwin.

    Now, I don’t agree that On the Origin is in any way ‘required’ – a lot of it is him writing about the evidence that lead to that theory and isn’t all that fascinating. I certainly wouldn’t refer it to a Creationist as a useful takedown of their nonsense.

  22. Chester Draws – “On the Origin of Species is arguing a case with tons of evidence, fighting against enemies long since defeated. Reading it in the original form would be like reading Newton in the original — of archaic value only.”

    I am not so sure. Since reading some dubious things on the internet about Darwin, I went back and finally read the Descent of Man and yes, Darwin was a Social Darwinian. That is, Social Darwinianism does not exist. There is only Darwin. And the modern Leftists who cannot accept the ideas implicit in evolution and so insist that there is a Good Darwinianism and a Bad Darwinianism.

    So it is often worth our time to re-read what we think we know.

  23. I haven’t read it; I’m waiting for the play to come.

    I was somewhat shocked the other day to discover that my partner not only doesn’t know the Second Law, he doesn’t even know the First Law of Thermodynamics.

  24. bloke in spain – “It took the discovery of DNA to identify the mechanism behind genetics. Without the mechanism, Origin of Species doesn’t work.”

    Oddly enough human beings managed to smelt various metals for about 5000 years before they discovered the mechanism behind oxidation.

    Obviously evolution works whether we know anything about genetics or not. Always has. Darwin was immediately famous for his theory. Even without genetics.

  25. @Agammamon
    Without DNA there wouldn’t be any mutations. It contains the instructions to assemble a life-form & mutations are discrepancies in the copying of the instructions. You could say life is the method DNA uses to copy itself but it makes mistakes.
    OoS observes the result. But it doesn’t explain the how. It still leaves room for a Creator with its thumb on the scales.
    Darwin explains one aspect of life but Watson & Crick explain life.

  26. ‘Without the mechanism, Origin of Species doesn’t work. Randomly breeding, a population should converge towards an average, over a relatively short time. Not diversify over a much longer time. The survival of the fittest not happen, because all members of a population would be equally fit. All life on earth would be some primitive single celled organism. Or something even simpler’

    Wut?

    Genetic drift could indeed lead to convergence, but only for a small, isolated population of an organism.

    In other words, you are full of shit.

  27. Likewise Gibbon’s D&F chronicles events but it’s a head on coins version of history. History’s driven by climate changes, disease prevalence, technological & agricultural innovation. Whole range of factors. Rulers are mostly just puppets dancing on their strings.

  28. “bloke in spain
    December 29, 2017 at 2:46 am”

    Absolutely – but *knowing* about DNA wasn’t necessary to figure out what was going on, only *how exactly* the mechanisms involved worked and allowed us to take a certain amount of control.

    We already ‘knew’ before the discovery of DNA that there was some method of storing phenotype and that there were things in the environment that could modify that information (mutation) – the discovery of DNA is just the discovery of the data storage and replication medium.

    The discovery of DNA was a final confirmation of Evolution – but it wasn’t necessary to accept that it described how life came to be in this multitude of forms any more than Relativity was necessary to accept the theory of gravity.

  29. And OoS doesn’t – IMO at least – leave any room for God’s thumb anymore.

    Once you can explain something without reverting to God then just because you can still go back and say ‘God did it’ doesn’t mean that that has any power anymore.

  30. — “Genetic drift could indeed lead to convergence, but only for a small, isolated population of an organism. ”

    Quite so. Populations become isolated, for any number of reasons, into literal or metaphorical islands in which evolutionary pressures are different and in which the effects of random drift are equally isolated (and which spread/converge within each now-separate gene pool.)

    This concept of speciation – the splitting of populations and their subsequent evolutionary divergence – is fundamental to evolutionary theory.

  31. @Agammamon
    It would be possible to hypothesise a phenotype storage mechanism from Mendel’s work on genetics, several thousand years of experience of stock & plant breeding. Understanding the actual mechanism, evolution becomes implicit. One doesn’t need OoS.
    Remember. My original comment was in response to dearieme’s contention that one couldn’t be educated without having read a short handful of books. I’m saying that would only make you educated to the standards of a hundred years ago. We build on knowledge, encapsulating what was known before. You really need to be reading the latest edition.

  32. Christ, do all USAians have to meet the stereotype of being thick. Markle must be a fantastic shag otherwise why would Harry put up with the crap coming out of her mouth otherwise?

    If he wanted a bit of black, I’m sure he could have got it out of his system in some other way (price range of £10-2,000 per session).

  33. @Agammamon, December 29, 2017 at 8:07 am

    We already ‘knew’ before the discovery of DNA that there was some method of storing phenotype

    Yep. Mendel’s peas being one.

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