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By Gloria Vivenza

This ebook defines the connection among the concept of Adam Smith and that of the ancients--Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and the Stoics. Vivenza bargains an entire survey of Smith's writings to demonstrate how classical arguments formed evaluations and scholarship within the eighteenth century.

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11), and that Smith manoeuvres himself through his account of ancient astronomical systems ‘not indeed with complete mastery, but with a remarkable degree of precision and understanding’ (ibid. 15). 28 NATURAL PHILOSOPHY scientific theory,88 for all that the latter can certainly not be said to limit itself to an account of what is apparent, independent of objective reality. Smith's own view of the ‘philosophy of science’ has already undergone authoritative study. 89 Another very important aspect of Smith's theory is also of astronomical origin: the view that it is on the few, simple connecting principles of nature that every system turns.

For him, economic security is not proof that the wise man has no interests beyond pure research, but it is still of vital importance, inasmuch as it brings about the conditions in which he can work. Such matters may be of no interest to the wise man himself, but Smith cannot overlook them. He knows that they are central to everything, and that to ignore them in favour of some other pursuit is a luxury no one can permit himself, even from an intellectual standpoint. 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.

69. NATURAL PHILOSOPHY 29 philosophers manage to reduce the various elements and phenomena of nature to a few familiar principles. His two shorter essays on the subject, though incomplete, cannot be overlooked here, for they may well contain important evidence on his grasp of ancient scientific theory. 94 The historian's task, in an age when interest in this sort of enquiry had only recently arisen, was thus rendered somewhat difficult by the virtual impossibility of placing oneself in the context of those early researches, which to modern eyes were so bereft of certain fundamental requirements for the early progress of that science.

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