THE INVISIBLE HAND AND LIFE OF ADAM SMITH IS FINALLY UNCOVERED!
‘The Invisible Hand’ is a new play about the globally renowned, yet elusive, Adam Smith - a Scottish moral philosopher, pioneer of political economy, and a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. He was also Kirkcaldy’s most famous son – yet how much does anyone know about him and what he did for the modern world?
Perhaps it is time for Kirkcaldy to embrace the life of Adam Smith as well as his name, it is a life we can all be proud to remember and enjoy.
On Friday 20th and Saturday 21st November, ‘In Company Theatre Productions’ and 'Kirkcaldy4All' are presenting a rehearsed reading of the new play in the Old Kirk, Kirk Wynd.
Most people have heard of Adam Smith, visited the Adam Smith Theatre but very few people know very much about him and his real association with Kirkcaldy. He is perhaps best known for his economic theories based on his famous book, 'The Wealth of Nations' which apparently Margaret Thatcher carried around in her handbag. But he was so much more than an Economic scientist, he was a philosopher, a teacher and a man of letters.
He was a leader of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th Century, a movement that changed Scotland from a poor, backward and bigoted society to one that led the world in social philosophy, social change and religious freedom.
Adam Smith’s first book, the 'Theory of Moral Sentiments' is less well known than 'The Wealth of Nations' but it was equally influential. Both books were read all over world and Adam Smith became one of the most famous men in the world during his own lifetime.
The play 'The Invisible Hand' tells the story of how Adam Smith reached this pinnacle of success, the famous people he met along the way, their influence on him and how his mother, a strong, resourceful, Kirkcaldy woman, tried to influence him away from what she perceived as being the destructive forces of opinion at home and abroad.
Adam Smith is a fascinating character in himself, socially awkward, with a strong Kirkcaldy or Fife accent; he was vague, absent minded and some thought, eccentric. He never married, his mother was the dominant force in his life, but the ladies liked him thinking him peculiar but essentially kind and thoughtful. He came to the attention of 'the authorities' due to his involvement in the French Revolution, and the story of that involvement is told in the play.
The play brings to life the conflict Adam Smith felt about his inability to finish his work by bringing his two famous books together in a third volume, he struggled with his mother’s wishes and his desire to embrace the changes being brought about in France and America. The play is brought up to date by the discovery of letters between Adam Smith and his mother together with pamphlets concerning his involvement in the French Revolution. The conclusion of the play brings to the two stories, the past and the present, together.
There seems little doubt that Adam Smith was not only a famous and influential thinker but a good man, a decent whose concerns were for the ordinary people of Scotland and their welfare in an ever-changing society. It is clear that Kirkcaldy was the centre of his life, he wrote his books there and spent years of his life in the town with his beloved mother.
At the end of each evening, a glass of wine is on offer to anyone who might wish to stay and discuss what they have seen and heard, perhaps contribute something they have heard about Adam Smith and generally be part of what we hope will bring to life a truly significant part of Kirkcaldy's heritage.
This is good news in that it brings Adam Smith to the attention of a wider circle than those scholars who presently study his Works and his bibliographic details.
If I ever get to see the play I will write about it.
Adam Smith was a much broader and deeper scholar than even he is currently famous for, including among many scholars who purport to study him. The ‘missing’ third volume on Jurisprudence really is a great loss to world knowledge, when its manuscript was burned under orders Smith gave to his literary executors, Professor Joseph Black (Chemistry) and James Hutton (Geology), from his death-bed in 1790.
Many other manuscripts were also burned including his “Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres” containg his contribution to the general criticism of Classical Rhetoric as used in Scottish and English Law Courts. Fortunately two sets of lecture notes compiled by students were found in a old house sale and in a second-hand shop in Scotland. Much of his correspondence was also burned.
Hence, news of “Kirkcaldy4All”, the play, is most welcome. Congratulations to all those concerned,