Presentation on theme: "Adam Smith (1723-1790). Adam Smith The European Enlightenment Smith an important part of the Scottish enlightenment. Edinburgh Castle Old Town, Edinburgh."— Presentation transcript:
The European Enlightenment Smith an important part of the Scottish enlightenment. Edinburgh Castle Old Town, Edinburgh
European enlightenment philosophical and intellectual movement of 17th and 18th centuries, circa 1688-1789. Characterized by promotion of rationality, and rejection of old political, economic, and social order. Not revolutionary, however, but reformist.
Scottish Enlightenment (1740-90) 3 main features: 1)anti-clericist and anti-feudalist. Anti-clericist, not atheism, but rejection of authority of church and embracing of ‘new science’; 2) notion of progress, advancement, dynamic view of history, moving forward; 3) individual self-definition, self-realization. Also in Scotland, Enlightenment tied to reform of universities and education.
Adam Smith (1723-1790) University of Glasgow, Oxford, back to Glasgow. 1752: Professor of Moral Philosophy (natural theology, ethics, jurisprudence, and ‘expediency’ [political economy]) 1759: Theory of Moral Sentiments 1764: tutor to Duke of Buccleauch. Travel to France, meeting Encyclopedists and Physiocrats, including Quesnay. 1766: returns to London, working on new book on political economy. 1776: Wealth of Nations published.
History of Astronomy ‘wonder’ comes from what is new, extraordinary ‘surprise’ comes from the unexpected ‘admiration’ from beautiful, great Anxiety comes from the unexpected security/contentment comes from familiarity (EAS, p. 22-3)
History of Astronomy “When an object of any kind…” (EAS, p 22) “But when not only a passion…” (p. 23) p. 24: surprise of grief not more dangerous than surprise of joy p. 24, “Of Wonder”, - tendency toward classification, categorization p. 25 “But when something quite new…”
History of Astronomy -purpose of philosophizing, theorizing: p. 31 “…the invisible chains which bind together all these disjointed objects…” “…endeavours to introduce order into this chaos…” “…to allay this tumult of the imagination…”
Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) Smith considered TMS as important as WN. Continued to revise throughout his life (last [sixth] edition, 1790) TMS: How may a society freed from the fetters and controls of feudalism and the church achieve moral order?
Adam Smith - TMS “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.” (I:I:I:I Part I, Section I, Chapter I, paragraph I)
Imagination and Fellow-Feeling “As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation. Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did, and never can, carry us beyond our own person, and it is by the imagination only that we can form any conception of what are his sensations.” (p. 65)
A. Smith - TMS “Pity and compassion are words appropriated to signify our fellow-feeling with the sorrow of others. Sympathy, though its meaning was, perhaps, originally the same, may now, however, without much impropriety, be made use of to denote our fellow-feeling with any passion whatever.” (I:I:I:5)
“Sympathy” Principle Modern term: empathy Not just pity, but fellow-feeing of all kinds role of imagination, putting one’s self in another’s shoes But not enough to see another in joy or sorrow, also must know what caused it (what “excites” it)
Smith - TMS “There are some passions of which the expressions excite no sort of sympathy, but before we are acquainted with what gave occasion to them, serve rather to disgust and provoke us against them.” (p. 67) The furor of the angry man does not excite sympathy until we know the reason for the anger. Is this response appropriate?
approbation/disapprobation “Sympathy, therefore, does not arise so much from the view of the passion, as from that of the situation which excites it.” (p. 67) This leads to Smith’s theory of how we come to approve or disapprove of other people’s behavior, what he calls “approbation/disapprobation” (p. 69)
Two aspects of approbation 1.Is the behavior appropriate to the situation? What is the context or motive? 2. What effect does the behavior have? (the ‘end’ it produces). (p. 71)
self-approbation This all concerns judgments about others, what about our own conduct? Self-approbation and Self-disapprobation
Impartial spectator “as nature teaches the spectators to assume the circumstances of the person principally concerned, so she teaches this last in some measure to assume those of the spectators. As they are continually placing themselves in his situation, and thence conceiving emotions similar to what he feels; so he is as constantly placing himself in theirs...As they are constantly considering what they themselves would feel, if they actually were the sufferers, so he is as constantly led to imagine in what manner he would be affected if he was only one of the spectators of his own situation. As their sympathy makes them look at it, in some measure, with his eyes, so his sympathy makes him look at it, in some measure, with theirs.” (p. 75; also pp. 100-101)
Impartial spectator We imagine looking at ourselves through another’s eyes, and then likewise judging based on sympathy. So judgment of what is appropriate requires more than emotion- requires the ‟ reason” of the ‟ impartial spectator”
“sympathetic reason” or “rational sympathy” Sympathy is an original passion. When combined with the reason of the impartial spectator, becomes “sympathetic reason” Without reason, sympathy may be emotionalism. Without sympathy, reason alone may be cold, inhuman.
self-deceit: the excesses of self- regard Problem of sticking to the determination of the impartial spectator. Self-love or self-regard has excesses. Self-deceit: “...self-deceit, this fatal weakness of mankind, is the source of half the disorders of human life. If we saw ourselves in the light in which others see us, or in which they would see us if they knew all, a reformation would generally be unavoidable. We could not otherwise endure the sight.” (p. 109)
How to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand? “Nature, however, has not left this weakness, which is of so much importance, altogether without a remedy; nor has she abandoned us entirely to the delusions of self-love. Our continual observations upon the conduct of others, insensibly lead us to form to ourselves certain general rules concerning what is fit and proper either to be done or to be avoided.” (p. 109)
Social rules and codes of behavior “It is thus that the general rules of morality are formed. They are ultimately founded upon experience of what, in particular instances, our moral faculties, our natural sense of merit and propriety, approve, or disapprove of. We do not originally approve or condemn particular actions; because, upon examination, they appear to be agreeable or inconsistent with a certain general rule. The general rule, on the contrary, is formed, by finding from experience, that all actions of a certain kind, or circumstanced in a certain manner, are approved or disapproved of.” (p. 109-110)
“self-command”… “The man who acts according to the rules of perfect prudence, of strict justice, and of proper benevolence, may be said to be perfectly virtuous. But the most perfect knowledge of those rules will not alone enable him to act in this manner: his own passions are very apt to mislead him; sometimes to drive him and sometimes to seduce him to violate all the rules which he himself, in all his sober and cool hours, approves of. The most perfect knowledge, if it is not supported by the most perfect self- command, will not always enable him to do his duty.” (p. 143)
…and a “sense of duty” “The regard to those general rules of conduct, is what is properly called a sense of duty, a principle of the greatest consequence in human life, and the only principle by which the bulk of mankind are capable of directing their actions.” (p. 110)
Conscience (p. 105) Earthquake in China and your little finger (p. 106)
tendency to admire the rich Not only self-deceit but a tendency to admire and worship the rich corrupts the moral sentiments: “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” (p. 86)
maintenance of order and rank “It is because mankind are disposed to sympathize more entirely with our joy than with our sorrow, that we make parade of our riches, and conceal our poverty.” (p. 78) tendency to sympathize more with those higher in the social hierarchy. (pp. 86-87) this tendency is related to the acquisitive drive
“bettering our condition” (p. 79) “From whence, then, arises that emulation which runs through all the different ranks of men, and what are the advantages which we propose by that great purpose of human life which we call bettering our condition? To be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency, and approbation, are all the advantages which we can propose to derive from it. It is the vanity, not the ease, or the pleasure, which interests us. But vanity is always founded upon the belief of our being the object of attention and approbation. The rich man glories in his riches, because he feels that they naturally draw upon him the attention of the world, and that mankind are disposed to go along with him in all those agreeable emotions with which the advantages of his situation so readily inspire him. At the thought of this, his heart seems to swell and dilate itself within him, and he is fonder of his wealth, upon this account, than for all the other advantages it procures him. The poor man, on the contrary, is ashamed of his poverty. He feels that it either places him out of the sight of mankind, or, that if they take any notice of him, they have, however, scarce any fellow-feeling with the misery and distress which he suffers.”
poor man’s son (pp. 119ff.) Deception Drive for wealth and power may not benefit the individual, but may still be good for society---invisible hand! (pp. 119-123) Invisible hand appears more times in TMS than WN!
Invisible hand “The produce of the soil maintains at all times nearly that number of inhabitants which it is capable of maintaining. The rich only select from the heap what is most precious and agreeable. They consume little more than the poor, and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they mean only their own conveniency, though the sole end which they propose from the labours of all the thousands whom they employ, be the gratification of their own vain and insatiable desires, they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.” (pp. 122-123)
Higher and lower levels of prudence Even if it does pay off for the individual, they are industrious and achieve some level of affluence, it is only “deserving of cold esteem” (p. 135) Prudence, in short, when directed merely to the care of the health, of the fortune, and of the rank and reputation of the individual, though it is regarded as a most respectable and even, in some degree, as an amiable and agreeable quality, yet it never is considered as one, either of the most endearing, or of the most ennobling of the virtues. It commands a certain cold esteem, but seems not entitled to any very ardent love or admiration. (p. 135)
Highest level of prudence Wise and judicious conduct, when directed to greater and nobler purposes than the care of the health, the fortune, the rank and reputation of the individual, is frequently and very properly called prudence. We talk of the prudence of the great general, of the great statesman, of the great legislator. Prudence is, in all these cases, combined with many greater and more splendid virtues, with valour, with extensive and strong benevolence, with a sacred regard to the rules of justice, and all these supported by a proper degree of self- command. This superior prudence, when carried to the highest degree of perfection, necessarily supposes the art, the talent, and the habit or disposition of acting with the most perfect propriety in every possible circumstance and situation. It necessarily supposes the utmost perfection of all the intellectual and of all the moral virtues. It is the best head joined to the best heart. It is the most perfect wisdom combined with the most perfect virtue. (p. 135)
“greed is good”? So *proper* self-regard—self-interested behavior moderated by self-command and a sense of duty, as well as the socially responsible adherence to social rules and obligations—can be socially beneficial under certain conditions. It is not the higher level of prudence, but it is a kind of prudence.
Self-interest or sympathy? “That whole account of human nature, however, which deduces all sentiments and affections from self-love, which has made so much noise in the world, but which, so far as I know, has never yet been fully and distinctly explained, seems to me to have arisen from some confused misapprehension of the system of sympathy.” (TMS, Part 7, Section 3, Paragraph 7)
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