By Gloria Vivenza
This publication defines the connection among the concept of Adam Smith and that of the ancients--Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and the Stoics. Vivenza deals an entire survey of Smith's writings to demonstrate how classical arguments formed evaluations and scholarship within the eighteenth century.
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Extra info for Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adam Smith's Thought
42, where the system is described as ‘the simplest and most symmetrical until Kepler's day’, with Smith, ‘HA’ iv. ’ 69 Presumably not a displeasing theory in Smith's eyes, possessing as it did the beauty that he required of every theoretical system, though he makes no reference here to its general ‘consonance’, of which he was aware in other contexts; cf. Bonar (1926), 336; below, Ch. 2 n. 22. 24 NATURAL PHILOSOPHY The discovery of the ‘irregularity’ of celestial motion (in other words, the stations and retrogradations of the planets), which obviously took place when human capacity for observation was somewhat reﬁned, was a troubling revelation for minds that were by nature disposed to appreciate regular and ordered movement.
8. Smith lingers over the difﬁculty of abstract reasoning, making reference to the authority of Locke and Malebranche and adding that even now the problem remains a fundamental one; the Platonic solution, meanwhile, is worthy of appreciation, no better solution having been found despite centuries of trying. Plato lived at the dawn of philosophy; while the great Malebranche, two thousand years later, was unable to come up with anything much better. NATURAL PHILOSOPHY 37 the time of its propagation.
This is the notion of the world as a coherent system, governed by laws and serving as an end its own preservation and well-being; and of course directed by a divine mind, by providence, or by whatever other 98 Cf. On External Senses, 15, where Smith cites the difﬁculty with which ancient philosophers learnt that air was a substance with mass, capable of pressure and resistance—clearly being aware of the topic referred to in the previous note—and states that for modern philosophers the same difﬁculty has arisen with regard to light.
Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adam Smith's Thought by Gloria Vivenza