The Theory of Moral Sentiments

The Theory of Moral Sentiments

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The foundation for a general system of morals, this 1749 work is a landmark in the history of moral and political thought. Readers familiar with Adam Smith from "The Wealth of Nations" will find this earlier book a revelation. Although the author is often misrepresented as a calculating rationalist who advises the pursuit of self-interest in the marketplace, regardless of the human cost, he was also interested in the human capacity for benevolence -- as "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" amply demonstrates. The greatest prudence, Smith suggests, may lie in following economic self-interest in order to secure the basic necessities. This is only the first step, however, toward the much higher goal of achieving a morally virtuous life. Smith elaborates upon a theory of the imagination inspired by the philosophy of David Hume. His reasoning takes Hume's logic a step further by proposing a more sophisticated notion of sympathy, leading to a series of highly original theories involving conscience, moral judgment, and virtue. Smith's legacy consists of his reconstruction of the Enlightenment idea of a moral, or social, science that embraces both political economy and the theory of law and government. His articulate expression of his philosophy continues to inspire and challenge modern more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 132.1 x 205.7 x 22.9mm | 294.84g
  • Dover Publications Inc.
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0
  • 0486452913
  • 9780486452913
  • 62,889

Table of contents

PART I: of the propriety of action, consisting of three sections SECTION I: Of the sense of propriety SECTION II: Of the degrees of the different passions which are consistent with propriety SECTION III: Of the effects of prosperity and adversity upon the judgment of mankind with regard to the propriety of action; and why it is more easy to obtain their approbation in the one state than in the other PART II: of merit and demerit; or, of the objects of reward and punishment; consisting of three sections SECTION I: Of the sense of merit and demerit SECTION II: Of justice and beneficence SECTION III: Of the influence of fortune upon the sentiments of mankind, with regard to the merit or demerit of actions PART III: of the foundation of our judgments concerning our own sentiments and conduct, and of the sense of duty PART IV: of the effect of utility upon the sentiment of approbation consisting of one section PART V: of the influence of custom and fashion upon the sentiments of moral approbation and disapprobation consisting of one section PART VI: of the character of virtue consisting of three sections SECTION I: Of the character of the individual, so far as it affects his own happiness; or of prudence SECTION II: Of the character of the individual, so far as it can affect the happiness of other people SECTION III: Of self-command PART VII: of systems of moral philosophy: consisting of four sections SECTION I: Of the questions which ought to be examined in a theory of moral sentiments SECTION II: Of the different accounts which have been given of the nature of virtue SECTION III: Of the different systems which have been formed concerning the principle of approbation SECTION IV: Of the manner in which different authors have treated of the practical rules of morality Endnotesshow more