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Adam Smith, Radical and EgalitarianAn Interpretation for the 21st Century$
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Iain McLean

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748623525

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623525.001.0001

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The Life of an Absent-minded Professor

The Life of an Absent-minded Professor

(p.1) 1 The Life of an Absent-minded Professor
Adam Smith, Radical and Egalitarian

Iain McLean

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter introduces the life of Adam Smith as an absent-minded professor. Smith became absent-minded as he grew up. The events of his quiet life give vital clues as to how and why he shaped the world in his mind. Smith did not learned from any tutors at Balliol, but spent his six lonely years there in a self-directed programme of extensive reading in classical and contemporary literature and social science. It is tentatively suggested that it probably was Smith's advice that caused Townshend to tax the colonists. He was in government service as a backroom adviser while he was in London. He spent most of the rest of his life in public service, while giving as much time as he could to plans to revise and (re)publish his works. In his own lifetime, he had seen his economic doctrines adopted by leading politicians of both parties.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, absent-minded, Balliol, Townshend, backroom adviser, London, public service

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