Sunday, 30 April 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith

Another great thinker with connections to both America and Canada passes: as Screwy informs me, J. K. Galbraith just passed away. Gosh - that was a man you thought could go on forever. I remember seeing (I think) that imposing 6' 8" figure in Harvard Yard - still looking remarkable for a man over 80.

The New York Times' obit is extremely comprehensive, and I can't say much more, except that I thought Amartya Sen's words on The Affluent Society were apposite: "It's like reading 'Hamlet' and deciding it's full of quotations. You realise where they came from." I still have my copy of the book, an edition that dates back to the 60s or so - picked it up from an obscure bookstore about ten years or so ago. I'd forgotten that line quoted in the obit: "Is the added production or the added efficiency in production worth its effect on ambient air, water and space - the countryside?" - in the context of the relentless drive to production and efficiency of the 1950s, that must have been something to read.

An earlier Observer bio of Galbraith

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