Application of the Books Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication
Essentially, Smith’s book has advanced my theoretical knowledge of the rhetoric and philosophy of communication in three different ways. Firstly, I have to establish authority when seeking to make an argument. Smith utilizes this concept in the introductory paragraph of his book (8). He uses the paragraph to announce the topic and aim of his subsequent arguments. In classical rhetoric, this is called exordium or ethos and will enable me to communicate with credibility. Secondly, the book has also enlightened me on persuading people to adopt my line of thought. Smith portrays this in his discussion on the impacts of labour division. Mainly, he claims that he will demonstrate his hypothesis with an illustration. He does, however, remove large industries from his subsequent assessment. Accordingly, he is ‘forced’ to focus on a small-scale enterprise, and likewise, the reader shows apophasis.
In this way, Smith tries to conceal the notion that he is pointing to the textile sector, the dominant industry, because he fails to mention it. He also uses a technique called periphrasis and, alongside the previous two, can help me foresee and forestall possible objections to my arguments. Thirdly, every paragraph predicts potential disputes that may emerge afterwards. This technique is known as prolepsis, and jointly I would use them to court my audience or listeners to accept my examples without considering others.
Metaphor and Argument
Mainly, Smith argues that governments can thrive under free markets as a standard model of economic progress. He asserts that self-interested persons can promote cooperative advantages, attitudes about equity, ethics, and ultimately, contributions to economic theory (350). Smith implies that capitalism, motivated by self-interest, is inevitably the most efficient means of achieving a prosperous economy. Since people are driven by a desire for wealth, prosperity, or popularity, they will be encouraged to raise the efficiency of their labor and goods’ efficiency and outmatch their peers in the marketplace.
To illustrate the point above, Smith uses the metaphor of ‘invisible hand.’ In perspective, it alludes that an economy will operate more efficiently and effectively if the state leaves individuals alone to purchase and sell independently (349). Smith contends that if individuals were allowed to trade independently, self-interested merchants would try to outmatch one another, guiding markets to maximum production. Although he is right, I think a fundamental disadvantage of the ‘invisible hand’ is that it fails to recognize that there are far-reaching external costs when individuals and organizations follow their self-interests. For example, excessive production to meet market demands would result in resource depletion and pollution. It will also create a market monopoly if the government does not regulate production strategies and practices.
Relevance of the Book the Communication Classroom and the Marketplace
In the book, Smith uses speech as a vital medium for persuasion without supportive evidence. As a result, he was obsessed with establishing a rhetorical framework in his communication which is the subject of this discussion. Nonetheless, The Wealth of Nations is highly relevant to the communication classroom and the marketplace. In the classroom space, students would find Smith’s application of rhetoric techniques such as exordium, apophasis, periphrasis, and prolepsis useful in critical textual analysis. I would apply these techniques to critique comparable books to identify authorial intent, thought patterns, and major themes and how they support or oppose the rhetorical foundations of The Wealth of Nations.
Smith’s concept of self-interest can also be used to regulate the market as opposed to government interference. In a typical market, sellers compete to have their products prioritized by consumers. If a seller’s product is too expensive, the customer will consider buying elsewhere at a relatively lower price. Likewise, if a seller has poor customer service, all customers will move to the competitor with the best service. The same principle would apply where a seller has a low-quality product. In this way, self-interest and the ‘invisible hand’ help to keep firms in check by limiting their capacity to exploit consumers.
Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. The Modern Library, 2000.