Lectures on rhetoric and belles lettres adam smith pdf

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Download PDF. Lectures On Rhetoric and Be lles Lettres, ed. Bryce, vol. IV of The Glasgow Edition of the.

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Two savages, 2 who had never been taught to speak, but had been bred up remote from the societies of men, would naturally begin to form that language by which they would endeavour to make their mutual wants intelligible to each other, by uttering certain sounds, whenever they meant to denote certain objects. Those objects only which were most familiar to them, and which they had most frequent occasion to mention, would have particular names assigned to them.

The particular cave whose covering sheltered them from the weather, the particular tree whose fruit relieved their hunger, the particular fountain whose water allayed their thirst, would first be denominated by the words cave, tree, fountain, or by whatever other appellations they might think proper, in that primitive jargon, to mark them. Afterwards, when the more enlarged experience of these savages had led them to observe, and their necessary occasions obliged them to make mention of other caves, and other trees, and other fountains, they would naturally bestow, upon each of those new objects, the same name, by which they had been accustomed to express the similar object they were first acquainted with.

The new objects had none of them any name of its own, but each pg of them exactly resembled another object, which had such an appellation. It was impossible that those savages could behold the new objects, without recollecting the old ones; and the name of the old ones, to which the new bore so close a resemblance.

And thus, those words, which were originally the proper names of individuals, would each of them insensibly become the common name of a multitude. A child that is just learning to speak, calls every person who comes to the house its papa or its mama; and thus bestows upon the whole species those names which it had been taught to apply to two individuals. I have known a clown, who did not know the proper name of the river which ran by his own door.

It was a the river, he said, and he never heard any other name for it. His experience, it seems, had not led him to observe any other river. The general word river a , therefore, was, it is evident, in his acceptance of it, a proper name, signifying an individual object. If this person had been carried to another river, would he not readily have called it a river?

Could we suppose any person living on the banks of the Thames so ignorant, as not to know the general word river, but to be acquainted only with the particular word Thames, if he was brought to any other river, would he not readily call it a b Thames? This, in reality, is no more than what they, who are well acquainted with the general word, are very apt to do. An Englishman, describing any great river which he may have seen in some foreign country, naturally says, that it is another Thames.

The Spaniards, when they first arrived upon the coast of Mexico, and observed the wealth, populousness, and habitations of that fine country, so much superior to the savage nations which they had been visiting for some time before, cried out, that it was another Spain. Hence it was called New Spain; and this name has stuck to that unfortunate country ever since.

We say, in the same manner, of a hero, that he is an Alexander; of an orator, that he is a Cicero; of a philosopher, that he is a Newton. This way of speaking, which the grammarians call an Antonomasia, and which is still extremely common, though now not at all necessary, demonstrates how much mankind are naturally disposed to give to one object the name of any other, which nearly resembles it, and thus to denominate a multitude, by what originally was intended to express an individual,.

What constitutes a species is merely a number of objects, bearing a certain degree of resemblance to one another, and on that account denominated by a single appellation, which may be applied to express any one of them. When there was occasion, therefore, to mention any particular object, it often became necessary to distinguish it from the other objects comprehended under the same general name, either, first, by its peculiar qualities; or, secondly, by the peculiar relation which it stood in to some other things.

Hence the necessary origin of two other sets of words, of which the one should express quality; the other, relation. Thus the word green expresses a certain quality considered as qualifying, or as in concrete with, the particular subject to which it may be applied. Words of this kind, it is evident, may serve to distinguish particular objects from others comprehended under the same general appellation.

The words green tree, for example, might serve to distinguish a particular tree from others that were withered or blasted. Words of this kind serve to distinguish particular objects from others of the same species, when those particular objects cannot be so properly marked out by any peculiar qualities of their own.

When we say, the green tree of the meadow, for example, we distinguish a particular tree, not only by the quality which belongs to it, but by the relation which it stands in to another object. The words green and blue would, in all probability, be sooner invented than the words greenness and blueness; the words above and below, than the words superiority and inferiority.

To invent words of the latter kind requires a much greater effort of abstraction than to invent those of the former. It is probable, therefore, that such abstract terms would be of much later institution. Accordingly, their etymologies generally shew e that they are so, they being generally derived from others that are concrete. Those, for example, who first invented the words green, blue, red, and the other names of colours, must have observed and compared together a great number of objects, must have remarked their resemblances and dissimilitudes in respect of the quality of colour, and must have arranged them, in their own minds, into different classes and assortments, according to those resemblances and dissimilitudes.

An adjective is by nature a general, and in some measure an abstract word, and necessarily presupposes the idea of a certain species or assortment of things, to all of which it is equally applicable. The word green could not, as we were supposing might be the case of the word cave, have been originally the name of an individual, and afterwards have become, by what f grammarians call an Antonomasia, the name of a species.

The word green denoting, not the name of a substance, but the peculiar quality of a substance, must from the very first have been a general word, and considered as equally pg applicable to any other substance possessed of the same quality. The man who first distinguished a particular object by the epithet of green, must have observed other objects that were not green, from which he meant to separate it by this appellation. The institution of this name, therefore, supposes comparison.

It likewise supposes some degree of abstraction. The person who first invented this appellation must have distinguished the quality from the object to which it belonged, and must have conceived the object as capable of subsisting without the quality.

The invention, therefore, even of the simplest nouns adjective, must have required more metaphysics than we are apt to be aware of. The different mental operations, of arrangement or classing, of comparison, and of abstraction, must all have been employed, before even the names of the different colours, the least metaphysical of all nouns adjective, could be instituted.

From all which I infer, that when languages were beginning to be formed, nouns adjective would by no means be the words of the earliest invention,. This expedient is to make some variation upon the noun substantive itself, according to the different qualities which it is endowed with. Thus, in many languages, the qualities both of sex and of the want of sex, are expressed by different terminations in the nouns substantive, which denote objects so qualified.

On the other hand, the words forum, pratum, plaustrum, denote by their peculiar termination the total absence of sex in the different substances which they stand for. Both sex, and the want of all sex, being naturally considered as qualities modifying and inseparable from the particular substances to which they belong, it was natural to express them rather by a modification in the noun substantive, than by any general and abstract word expressive of this particular species of quality.

The expression bears, it is evident, in this way, a much more exact analogy to the idea or object which it denotes, than in the other. The quality appears, in nature, as a modification of the substance, and as g it is thus expressed, in language, by a modification of the noun substantive, pg which denotes that substance, the h quality and the subject are, in this case, blended together, if I may say so, in the expression, in the same manner as they appear to be in the object and in the idea.

Hence the origin of the masculine, feminine, and neutral genders, in all the ancient languages. By means of these, the most important of all distinctions, that of substances into animated and inanimated, and that of animals into male and female, seem i to have been sufficiently marked without the assistance of adjectives, or of any general names denoting this most extensive species of qualifications.

I should not, however, be surprised, if, in other languages with which I am unacquainted, the different formations k of nouns substantive l should be capable of expressing many other different qualities.

The different diminutives of the Italian, and of some other languages, do, in reality, sometimes, express a great variety of different modifications in the substances denoted by those nouns which undergo such variations. Though the different formation of nouns substantive, therefore, might, for some time, forestall the necessity of inventing nouns adjective, it was impossible that this necessity could be forestalled altogether.

When nouns adjective came to be invented, it was natural that they should be formed with some similarity to the substantives, to which they were to serve as epithets or qualifications. Men would naturally give them the same terminations with the substantives to which they were first applied, and from that love of similarity of sound, from that delight in the returns of the same syllables, which is the foundation of analogy in all languages, they would be apt to vary the termination of the same adjective, according as they had occasion to apply it to a masculine, to a feminine, or to a neutral substantive.

They would say, magnus lupus, magna lupa, magnum pratum, when they meant to express a great he wolf, a great she wolf, a great meadow. Gender, it is to be observed, cannot properly belong to a noun adjective, the signification of which is always precisely the same, to whatever species of substantives it is applied.

When we say, a great m man, a great woman m , the word great has precisely the same meaning in both cases, and the difference of the n sex in the subjects to which it may be applied, makes no sort of difference in its signification. Magnus, magna, magnum, in the same manner, are words which express precisely the same quality, and the change of the termination is accompanied with no sort of variation in the meaning. Sex and gender are qualities which belong to substances, but cannot belong to the qualities of substances.

In general, no quality, when considered in concrete, or as qualifying some particular subject, can itself be conceived as the subject of any other quality; though when considered in abstract it may. No adjective therefore can qualify any other adjective. A great good man, means a man who is both great and good. Both the adjectives qualify the substantive; they do not qualify one another, On the other hand, when we say, the great goodness of the man, the word goodness denoting a quality considered in abstract, which may itself be the subject of other qualities, is upon that account capable of being qualified by the word great.

Every preposition, as I have already observed, denotes some relation considered in concrete with the co-relative object. The preposition above, for example, denotes the relation of superiority, not in abstract, as it is expressed by the word superiority, but in concrete with some co-relative object. In this phrase, for example, the tree above the cave, the word above expresses a certain relation between the tree and the cave, and it expresses this relation in concrete with the co-relative object, the cave.

A preposition always requires, in order to complete the sense, some other word to come after it; as may be observed in this particular instance. Now, I say, the original invention of such words would require a yet greater effort of abstraction and generalization, than that of nouns adjective.

First of all, a relation is, in itself, a more metaphysical object than a quality. Nobody can be at a loss to explain what is meant by a quality; but few people will find themselves able to express, very distinctly, what is understood by a relation.

Qualities are pg almost always the objects of our external senses; relations never are. No wonder, therefore, that the one set of objects should be so much more comprehensible than the other. Secondly, though prepositions always express the relation which they stand for, in concrete with the co-relative object, they could not have originally been formed without a considerable effort of abstraction.

A preposition denotes a relation, and nothing but a relation. But before men could institute a word, which signified a relation, and nothing but a relation, they must have been able, in some measure, to consider this relation abstractedly from the related objects; since the idea of those objects does not, in any respect, enter into the signification of the preposition.

The invention of such a word, therefore, must have required a considerable degree of abstraction. Thirdly, a preposition is from its nature a general word, which, from its very first institution, must have been considered as equally applicable to denote any other similar relation. The man who first invented the word above, must not only have distinguished, in some measure, the relation of superiority from the objects which were so related, but he must also have distinguished this relation from other relations, such as, from the relation of inferiority denoted by the word below, from the relation of juxtaposition, expressed by the word beside, and the like.

He must have conceived this word, therefore, as expressive of a particular sort or species of relation distinct from every other, which could not be done without a considerable effort of comparison and generalization.

If mankind, therefore, in the first formation of languages, seem to have, for some time, evaded the necessity of nouns adjective, by varying the termination of the names of substances, according as these varied in some of their most important qualities, they would much more find themselves under the necessity of evading, by some similar contrivance, the yet more difficult invention of prepositions. The different cases in the ancient languages is a contrivance of precisely the same kind.

The genitive and dative cases, in Greek and Latin, evidently supply the place of the o prepositions; and by a variation in the noun substantive, which stands for the co-relative term, express the relation which subsists between what is denoted by that noun substantive, and what is expressed by some other word in the sentence.

In these expressions, for example, fructus arboris, the fruit of the tree; sacer Herculi, sacred to Hercules; the variations made in the co-relative words, arbor and Hercules, express the pg same relations which are expressed in English by the prepositions of and to. It was not here expressed by a peculiar word denoting relation and nothing but relation, but by a variation upon the co- relative term.

It was expressed here, as it appears in nature, not as something separated and detached, but as thoroughly mixed and blended with the co-relative object. The words arboris and Herculi, while they involve in their signification the same relation expressed by the English prepositions of and to, are not, like those prepositions, general words, which can be applied to express the same relation between whatever other objects it might be observed to subsist. The words arboris and Herculi are not general words intended to denote a particular species of relations which the inventors of those expressions meant, in consequence of some sort of comparison, to separate and distinguish from every other sort of relation.

This, I say, would probably, or rather certainly happen; but it would happen without any intention or foresight in those who first set the example, and who never meant to establish any general rule. The general rule would establish itself insensibly, and by slow degrees, in consequence of that love of analogy and similarity of sound, which is the foundation of by far the greater part of the rules of grammar.

There are five in the Greek, six in the Latin, and there are said to be ten in the Armenian 5 language. It must have naturally happened that there pg should be a greater or a smaller number of cases, according as in the terminations of nouns substantive the first formers of any language happened to have established a greater or a smaller number of variations, in order to express the different relations they had occasion to take notice of, before the invention of those more general and abstract prepositions which could supply their place.

Ask any man of common acuteness, What relation is expressed by the preposition above? He will readily answer, that of superiority. By the preposition below? He will as quickly reply, that of inferiority.

But ask him, what relation is expressed by the preposition of and, if he has not beforehand employed his thoughts a good deal upon these subjects, you may safely allow him a week to consider of his answer. The prepositions above and below do not denote any of the relations expressed by the cases in the ancient languages.

Adam Smith and Ancient Literature

I am honored to do so. However, I got to know him, and his gracious wife, Mary, quite well during a sabbatical semester I spent under his sponsorship and guidance at Glasgow University in While Andrew is best known to me for his editorial and scholarly work on Adam Smith, he was equally involved in work on Sir James Steuart, and he had a passionate side-interest in Edward Chamberlin and the theory of monopolistic competition. In particular, Andrew was strongly attracted to Sir James Steuart. Beginning with his B. Litt thesis written under Ronald Meek and running throughout his life, Andrew continued to be fascinated by this neglected, and he thought seriously under-rated, contemporary of Smith. He earned his MA from Glasgow in and also received a B.

While we are building a new and improved webshop, please click below to purchase this content via our partner CCC and their Rightfind service. You will need to register with a RightFind account to finalise the purchase. Adam Smith —90 is perhaps best known as one of the first champions of the free market and is widely regarded as the founding father of capitalism. From his ideas about the promise and pitfalls of globalization to his steadfast belief in the preservation of human dignity, his work is as relevant today as it was in the eighteenth century. They reveal other sides of Smith beyond the familiar portrayal of him as the author of the invisible hand, emphasizing his deep interests in such fields as rhetoric, ethics, and jurisprudence. Smith emerges not just as a champion of free markets but also as a thinker whose unique perspective encompasses broader commitments to virtue, justice, equality, and freedom.

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Lectures On Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. J. C. Bryce, vol. IV of The Glasgow Edition of the. Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith.


Lectures On Rhetoric And Belles Lettres Scholarship

The chapter follows Smith's exposition, which starts with poetry and after it illustrates prose in its main forms, namely history, didactic writing, oratory. The relationship of Smith's treatment of rhetoric and literature with important aspects of his subsequent thought is illustrated. Adam Smith in fact planned two publications, neither of which he succeeded in completing. Shortly before his death, Smith ordered the manuscript of the lectures that he delivered in Edinburgh and Glasgow to be destroyed, the very manuscript which Hugh Blair in still hoped would be published.

Philosophy & Rhetoric

Edited by Christopher J. Berry, Maria Pia Paganelli, and Craig Smith

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