Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adams Smith's Thought

Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adams Smith's Thought

Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adams Smith's Thought

Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adams Smith's Thought

Synopsis

'This book would be of interest both to scholars of British philosophy of the eighteenth century and to those of ancient philosophy. All who make a special study of Adam Smith should certainly read it.' -British Journal for the History of Philosophy'Few scholars have, as yet, paid close attention to Smith's lectures on jurisprudence, and for this reason Vivenza's chapter on jurisprudence and Roman law is particularly valuable. As elsewhere, she is remarkably well informed on all the relevant literature, and she has also brought her own knowledge of the ancient world to bear fruitfully on her reflections.' -British Journal for the History of Philosophy'Most welcome... her [Smith's] observations are often original and instructive... Vivenza's discussion of the relevance of classical expressions of Stoicism is far and away superior to that of any other commentator.' -British Journal for the History of Philosophy'The book holds up well as an expert exercise in tracing sources, influence and filiation... Vivenza's scholarly and carefully detailed account of the intricate weave of classical influences within Smith's thought is an achievement.' -Political StudiesThis book defines the relationship between the thought of Adam Smith and that of the ancients---Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and the Stoics. Vivenza offers a complete survey of all Smith's writings with the aim of illustrating how classical arguments shaped opinions and scholarship in the eighteenth century.

Excerpt

Adam Smith's cultural heritage was one of great breadth, enriched by lively interests. The aim of this book is to shed light on an aspect of it that cannot in any way be regarded as marginal or limited: his formidable grounding in the classics, which—though not at all exceptional for the period and environment in which he moved—was one of its lynchpins. It is perhaps of some interest that in this area he owed no great debt to his teachers at Oxford, given the poor quality of teaching at that university. We must go back to Smith's years at the Glasgow College (where he arrived at the age of fifteen and remained three years) in order to see the earliest germ of a predilection that lasted his whole life—as shown by the 'blank half hours' in the custom-house at Edinburgh, his last work place, spent reciting passages from the classics by heart, in competition with his colleague James Edgar.

The man responsible for sowing that seed was almost certainly Francis Hutcheson, who introduced and revitalized the study of the classics at Glasgow; but the college could muster other strong classicists. Smith, one might say, caught the bug. In all his writings, without exception, one can recognize the lasting impression made by this early classical education, even if filtered through the stimulating cultural experiences which abounded in the age and the milieu in which he lived.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.