By Gloria Vivenza
This e-book defines the connection among the idea of Adam Smith and that of the ancients--Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and the Stoics. Vivenza deals a whole survey of Smith's writings to demonstrate how classical arguments formed reviews and scholarship within the eighteenth century.
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Additional info for Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adam Smith's Thought
One can perfectly well understand the Principia without much knowledge of earlier astronomy but one cannot read a single chapter in Copernicus or Kepler without a thorough knowledge of Ptolemy's Almagest. Up to Newton all astronomy consists in modiﬁcations, however ingenious, of Hellenistic astronomy’: Neugebauer (1957), 3–4. NATURAL PHILOSOPHY 27 that he took his ﬁrst steps in the study of the subject when still a student. 86 Leaving aside this and the few other such gaps,87 however, his essay is interesting as proof of his vast understanding of classical culture, as also of his tendency to analyse its fundamental elements by contemporary intellectual standards, in a way that would now be considered ‘unhistorical’.
30 NATURAL PHILOSOPHY not up to the task, and its resolution had to await Archimedes' principle of the upward motion of bodies in ﬂuids. 98 Using Aristotle as a source (though he never names him), Smith dedicates about half of the essay to the exposition of the theory of the four elements, which he approves for being a sufﬁciently trustworthy means of enabling early men to reason scientiﬁcally, notwithstanding its lack of connections, and, furthermore, for being endowed with the harmonious beauty that every system should have.
This is doubtless something of which the primitive philosopher in Smith's account is himself unaware, and indeed he is ascribed an attitude that is, in short, Aristotelian; but the account itself is clearly couched in these terms. Nor should the political element in Smith's reconstruction be overlooked. 53 According to Smith, in other words, scientiﬁc research can begin in a well-ordered and -governed society, as long as it is not stiﬂed by tyranny. 5. 54 After stating that the production of poetry also depends on economic prosperity, for the ﬁrst great poets in Greek were, like the philosophers, from the islands and the colonies, Smith gives a brief résumé of pre-Socratic philosophy.
Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adam Smith's Thought by Gloria Vivenza