Outward, Visible Propriety: Stoic Philosophy and Eighteenth-century British Rhetorics
In her study of the eighteenth-century transition from classical to modern perspectives in British rhetorical theory, Agnew argues that this shift was significantly shaped by resurgent influences of Stoic ethical philosophy. Agnew argues that writers such as Adam Smith, Henry Home, Lord Kames, Hugh Blair, George Campbell, and Richard Whately drew upon Stoic ideas and the earlier work of Lord Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson, and Thomas Reid in their integration of Stoic ethics and rhetorical theory. Familiarity with ancient thought enabled British rhetoricians to craft distinctly eighteenth-century perspectives on how rhetoric could prepare individuals to fulfill their ethical potential to the community. This is best illustrated through the development of four important rhetorical concepts during this eracommon sense, taste, sympathy, and proprietyeach of which supports the broader Stoic objectives of individual vision and civic harmony. Through these concepts Stoicism offered eighteenth-century thinkers a vision of the ethical interplay of individual experience, collective judgment, and civic responsibility.
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