ADAM SMITH'S ECONOMICS AND THE LECTURES ON RHETORIC AND BELLES LETTRES. THE LANGUAGE OF COMMERCE
AbstractAmong the abundant literature devoted to Adam Smith's complete works, there has been a relative lack of interest in the Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, especially from historians of economic thought. I want to show that this youth's work is essential in understanding Smith's conception of economic exchange. The analogy between the exchange of sentiments, opinions and goods is developed so that man may be seen as a 'commercial' animal. Economic transactions are seen as means for men to get the pleasures of social life and self approbation. Instead of highlighting man's autonomy and selfishness, Smith underlines the ethical character of economic agents made of justice, prudence, and self command, and their willingness to be approved by their fellows and by the impartial spectator.