If I was under duress, with a revolver to my head and forced to pick between John Locke and Adam Smith… (because you should totally have a favorite amongst the Enlightenment thinkers) I would likely vacillate for longer than one should, if one felt the cold steel of a large bore tapping against ones cranium, I mean.
Still, I’d pick Adam Smith.
Notice how I don’t throw Isaac Newton into the mix. Because… well… despite being a keen appreciator of science and math, cognitively speaking, these are not my strong suits. The dismal science is much more my thing. And while I really like John Locke I feel I owe something to the founder of the discipline where no-one agrees on anything, and everyone’s predictions are always wrong.
Economics is a sexy beast. And also very forgiving.
It doesn’t even mind that I briefly considered John Locke.
As long as I didn’t do something crazy and go all François-Marie Arouet. Or Voiltaire if you prefer the nom de plume. Which is pure anathema to me. Its like choosing a French car. Seriously, who does that?
In any event. DID YOU KNOW…
… that Adam Smith, as a child, was stolen off his Uncles porch by gypsies.
An accident which happened to him when he was about three years old, is of too interesting a nature to be omitted in the account of so valuable a life. He had been carried by this mother to Stathenry, on a visit to his uncle Mr. Douglas, and was one day amusing himself alone at the door of the house, when he was stolen by a party of that set of vagrants who are known in Scotland by the name of tinkers. Luckily he was soon missed by his uncle, who, hearing that some vagrants had passed pursued them, with what assistance he could find, till he overtook them in Leslie Wood and was the happy instrument of preserving to the world a genius which was destined, not only to extend the boundaries of science, but to enlighten and reform the commercial policy of Europe.
-Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, Duglad Stewart (1794)
Which makes me think of Snatch… the movie he added quickly, and not some vulgar colloquialism for a pudding hatch…
… and how things could have turned out for Adan Smith, and by extension all of us, if he’d been into bare knuckle boxing and lived in a caravan just off the muddy field at the end of the lane.
Life can change on you in an instant. And the permutations can be quite profound. Maybe we’d all be living in a communist utopia now… then again, maybe not.
I do like dags though. So maybe it wouldn’t have been all bad.