Adam Smith in Love?

That is the subject of my latest paper, the full title of which is “A Footnote to the History of Sublimation? A Short History of Adam Smith in Love.” Update (10/25): I once again made additional revisions to my abstract and uploaded a revised and corrected version of my paper to SSRN. Below the fold is my re-revised abstract:

“The author devotes his full scholarly attention to the mystery of Adam Smith’s love life by carefully re-assembling all the admissible amorous evidence, by subjecting such facts to critical lawyerly scrutiny, and by drawing reasonable inferences from these sundry proofs. Following a brief introduction, Part 2 of this paper considers three credible pieces of evidence or primary sources regarding Adam Smith’s love life: (i) an obscure but intriguing end note in Dugald Stewart’s 1793 biography of Smith’s life and writings, (ii) a letter dated July 14, 1784 addressed to Professor Stewart, and (iii) a brief anecdote by Henry Mackenzie, a prominent Scottish lawyer and writer and a co-founder (along with Professor Stewart) of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Part 3 then speculates about the whereabouts of Adam Smith’s lost diary and also about why Smith instructed his literary executors as early as 1773 to destroy his private papers and correspondence. Next, Parts 4 and 5 of this paper will consider two additional clues that may shed light on this amorous enigma. Specifically, Part 4 will revisit Adam Smith’s analysis of romantic love in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, while Part 5 will discuss the legal and ecclesiastical regulation of sex in 18th Century Scotland and France–the locales of Smith’s love affairs. Part 6 then presents one last and potentially relevant clue: the notorious case of the Chevalier de La Barre, which played out during Adam Smith’s sojourns in Paris and Abbeville, and Part 7 concludes with observations for future research. In short, contrary to the conventional biographical wisdom, reports of Adam Smith’s love life are not mere rumors or unfounded speculations. Although Adam Smith’s lifelong devotion to his intellectual life and to his widowed mother Margaret Douglas may have ultimately prevented him from getting married and forming his own household, the evidence will show that it is “more likely than not” that Adam Smith was deeply in love at least twice in his life.”

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About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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2 Responses to Adam Smith in Love?

  1. Pingback: Introduction to “A Short History of Adam Smith in Love” | prior probability

  2. Pingback: Adam Smith in Love Update | prior probability

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