Essays on Philosophical Subjects

Essays on Philosophical Subjects

Essays on Philosophical Subjects

Essays on Philosophical Subjects


Includes several essays covering aspects of the history of science(including astronomy, ancient physics, and ancient logic), as well as adiscussion of the external senses, showing that Smith shared with philosophersthe preoccupation with epistemological problems. The others are concerned withaesthetics and the philosophy of art.


This is Volume III of the new edition of the Works and Correspondence ofAdam Smith undertaken by the University of Glasgow. It contains the Essays on Philosophical Subjects and Dugald Stewart's Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, together with Smith's contributions to the Edinburgh Review and his Preface to William Hamilton's Poems on Several Occasions.

The range of subjects covered in this collection is too wide to be edited by any one scholar. The main task of dealing with the essays that are strictly on 'philosophical subjects' was entrusted to W. P. D. Wightman. The editors for the remaining pieces were chosen with an eye to their role in the preparation of other, related, volumes. John Bryce, the editor of the Lectures on Rhetoric, has therefore dealt with the essay on English and Italian Verses, the articles in the Edinburgh Review, and the Preface to Hamilton's Poems, while Ian Ross, Smith's biographer and (with E. C. Mossner) editor of the Correspondence, has looked after Stewart's 'Account'.

It was also thought desirable to appoint general editors in order to ensure uniformity of practice and to relate the different parts of this volume to each other and to the edition as a whole. We have tried to do so by providing a General Introduction and a number of supplementary notes (enclosed within square brackets). For much of the information in these notes we are indebted to several scholars, including P. Michael Brown, John Bryce, Eric Forbes, A. Rupert Hall, and Donald Malcolm. We owe a special debt to the late Donald Allan, formerly Professor of Greek in the University of Glasgow, for his extensive and invaluable help in dealing with classical sources; many of the supplementary notes concerned with the ancient world have been supplied by him in their entirety.

We should also like to thank Mrs. Therese Campbell, Mrs. Julie Milton, and Miss Eileen O'Donnell for the care with which they have prepared the typescript at different stages.

1978 D. D. R. A. S. S.

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