The Rhetoric of Tenses in Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations


The Rhetoric of Tenses in Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” examines the tenses of the predicates in the famous and typical passages of the monumental work to explore the intricacies of the rhetoric and argument they support, paying particular attention to the question of temporality. Smith’s subtle modulation of language attests to his reluctance to offer a mere theory of economics and to his refusal to ignore the complicated challenges history and actuality offer to his beliefs in the natural system of liberty. The theoretical frame of the book is derived from the grammarians of Smith’s age, in particular James Harris. The supple interdisciplinary approach of this book invites literary and publishing histories to converse with intellectual history.
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Biographical Note

Hye-Joon Yoon, Ph.D. (1992), Yonsei University, is Professor of English at that university, and teaches intellectual history in addition to English and comparative literature. His numerous publications include Metropolis and Experience: Defoe, Dickens, Joyce (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).

Table of contents

List of Tables
1 “The Nicest Subtleties”: Smith and Other Grammarians
 The Author, His Publishers, and the Pages
 Grammarians and “the Consideration of Verbs”
 James Harris on the Present Tense
 Tenses of Non-Presence
2 “The Didactick and the Rhetoricall” Tenses of Philosophy
 “Every Where and Always Invariably One”
 “Private Interests and Passions”
 A Philosophy of Commerce?
3 “Hence the Origin”: Tenses of History, Conjectural and Actual
 In Search of the “Causes”
 The Conjectural History of Labor and the Actual History of Money
 “The Remembrance of Former Events”
4 The “Progress of Opulence” and the Present Perfect
 The Progress of “Progress”
 Climate, Nations, and Progress
 Natural and Unnatural Progresses
5 The “System of Natural Liberty” and Futurity
 “The Prospect of Concatenated Events”
 “System” and “Value”
 Credo in the “Invisible Hand”


Academic libraries and institutions, scholars, postgraduate and upper-level undergraduate students interested in Smith, Scottish Enlightenment, the history of economic thought, eighteenth-century studies, theories of rhetoric, history of grammar.