Hi

I have two questions so far regarding two passages.

1. The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, seems to arise not so much from nature as from habit, custom, and education.

--Is a "street porter" someone who carries people's bags or someone in charge of the entrance to a building or someone else?

2. When they came into the world, and for the first six or eight years of their existence, they were perhaps very much alike, and neither their parents nor playfellows could perceive any remarkable difference. About that age, or soon after, they come to be employed in very different occupations. The difference of talents comes then to be taken notice of, and widens by degrees, till at last the vanity of the philosopher is willing to acknowledge scarce any resemblance.

--I don't understand the part in bold. Could you make it clearer to me?

Thank you
Hi,

I have two questions so far regarding two passages. These passages both seem to be written in a very oldfashioned style of English. Do you know the date they were written?

1. The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, seems to arise not so much from nature as from habit, custom, and education.

--Is a "street porter" someone who carries people's bags or someone in charge of the entrance to a building or someone else?It means someone you pay to carry stuff from one place to another. That's his job.

Today, in Western cities, we don't really have 'street porters'. We use couriers, moving companies, UPS.

2. When they came into the world, and for the first six or eight years of their existence, they were perhaps very much alike, and neither their parents nor playfellows could perceive any remarkable difference. About that age, or soon after, they come to be employed in very different occupations. The difference of talents comes then to be taken notice of, and widens by degrees, till at last the vanity of the philosopher is willing to acknowledge scarce any resemblance.

--I don't understand the part in bold. Could you make it clearer to me? It's very hard to follow the writer's thought. Possibly more context would help.

the vanity of the philosopher someone who is proud of their skills in thinking and umderstanding

is willing

to acknowledge scarce any resemblance.
to admit that there is almost no resemblance between the two children, that they are almost completely different.

Best wishes, Clive
Hi Clive

You're right it's an oldfashioned English. They come from Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" and it was written in 1776.

The whole second passage is:

The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not upon many occasions so much the cause as the effect of the division of labour. The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, seems to arise not so much from nature as from habit, custom, and education. When they came into the world, and for the first six or eight years of their existence, they were perhaps very much alike, and neither their parents nor playfellows could perceive any remarkable difference. About that age, or soon after, they come to be employed in very different occupations. The difference of talents comes then to be taken notice of, and widens by degrees, till at last the vanity of the philosopher is willing to acknowledge scarce any resemblance. But without the disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, every man must have procured to himself every necessary and conveniency of life which he wanted. All must have had the same duties to perform, and the same work to do, and there could have been no such difference of employment as could alone give occasion to any great difference of talents.

take care Emotion: wink
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I interpret that part as meaning that the philosopher considers himself so far above a common street porter that he can't admit there are any similarities between them. Yet of course there are many - and the differences are due to their situations rather than any inherent differences.
I get it now too. Thanks!
Hi. How about this one:

Among men, on the contrary, the most dissimilar geniuses are of use to one another; the different produces of their respective talents, by the general disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, being brought, as it were, into a common stock, where every man may purchase whatever part of the produce of other men's talents he has occasion for.

What does "the different" refer to, and what does "as it were" mean?
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