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The Life of an Absent-minded Professor

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Abstract

Adam Smith led a quiet, uneventful life. As a child, he was initially sickly and protected by his widowed mother. As an adult, he was notoriously absent-minded. In 1767 a society hostess recorded in her diary:

I said many things in his [AS’s] praise, but added that he was the most Absent Man that ever was … Mr Darner … made him a visit the other morning as he was going to breakfast, and, falling into discourse, Mr Smith took a piece of bread and butter, which, after he had rolled round and round, he put into the teapot and pour’d the water upon it; some time after he poured it into a cup, and when he had tasted it, he said it was the worst tea he had ever met with. (Lady Mary Coke, aunt of AS’s tutee the Duke of Buccleuch. Cited by Ross 1995, p. 226)

Keywords

  • Moral Sentiment
  • Natural Theology
  • East India Company
  • Balliol College
  • Dialogue Concern Natural Religion

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2006 Iain McLean

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McLean, I. (2006). The Life of an Absent-minded Professor. In: Adam Smith, Radical and Egalitarian. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-73822-9_1

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