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A System of Social SciencePapers Relating to Adam Smith$
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Andrew Stewart Skinner

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198233343

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198233343.001.0001

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Language, Rhetoric, and the Communication of Ideas  

Language, Rhetoric, and the Communication of Ideas  

(p.7) 1 Language, Rhetoric, and the Communication of Ideas
A System of Social Science

Andrew Stewart Skinner

Oxford University Press

One of the first major problems that Adam Smith addressed in the Rhetoric was that of language. Smith believes that the parts of speech should be studied in an analytical manner, and that the development of the means of communication reveals important features of human nature, most notably with regard to the role of analogy, the capacity for classification, abstraction, and reflection. Smith's interest in language effectively illustrates his own preoccupation with grammar. Having disposed of the issues of language and style, Smith then proceeded to consider the forms of discourse that were employed in the communication of ideas through the medium of the spoken or written word. In Smith's view, all examples of the written word could be reduced to four broad types: the poetical, the historical, the didactic, and the oratorical. Smith also claimed that existing ‘systems’ of rhetoric showed a preoccupation with figures of speech.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, rhetoric, language, communication, parts of speech, figures of speech, grammar, analogy, discourse, written word

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