ISBN is

978-1-57392-800-7 / 9781573928007

The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Great Books in Philosophy)

by

Publisher:Prometheus Books

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

"The Theory of Moral Sentiments" clearly demonstrates that besides mundane economic pursuits, Smith was just as interested, if not more so, in the capacity of people to bestow and to esteem benevolence, and to strive for virtue even while they are pursuing their own self-interest. The root of our motivation to act benevolently toward others, says Smith, is our natural propensity to sympathize with others. By the same token, our need to have others sympathize with us fuels our desire to be esteemed by others for our benevolence and generally virtuous character. But beyond the need for social approbation, we also have a genuine desire to live according to the dictates of conscience (called by Smith the 'Impartial Spectator'). This is our highest impulse and leads us continually to strive for excellence in all spheres of life quite apart from any recognition or encouragement from others. It may be prudent in our economic life to follow our self-interest to secure the basic necessities, but this is only the first stage of personal development toward the much higher goal of living a morally virtuous life. Although "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" is not well known today, it was widely read and highly praised by the leading intellectuals of the day including David Hume and Edmund Burke. The book went through six different editions between 1759 and 1790 and was also translated into French by the widow of Condorcet. To gain a complete picture of Adam Smith and his ideas, every reader of "The Wealth of Nations" should also become familiar with his classic treatment of ethics.

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