The Theory of Moral Sentiments
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first and in his own mind most important work, outlines his view of proper conduct and the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous. Here he develops his doctrine of the impartial spectator, whose hypothetical disinterested judgment we must use to distinguish right from wrong in any given situation. We by nature pursue our self-interest, according to Smith. This makes independence or self-command an instinctive good, and neutral rules as difficult to craft as they are necessary. But society is not held together merely by neutral rules; it is held together by sympathy. Smith argues that we naturally share the emotions and to a certain extent the physical sensations we witness in others. Sharing the sensations of our fellows, we seek to maximize their pleasures and minimize their pains so that we may share in their joys and enjoy their expressions of affection and approval.
Navigate Adam Smith's philosophical masterwork, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in this unique, online edition made available by Liberty Fund and the John Templeton Foundation.
Trim size: 6 x 9
Collection: The Glasgow Edition of the Works of Adam Smith
Publication date: February 1984
LibriVox Audio Edition
Running Time: 12:44:19
Zip file size: 350 MB
Catalog date: 2009-10-06
Read by: LibriVox Volunteers
Edition used: The Theory of Moral Sentiments; or, An Essay towards an Analysis of the Principles by which Men naturally judge concerning the Conduct and Character, first of their Neighbours, and afterwards of themselves. To which is added, A Dissertation on the Origins of Languages. New Edition. With a biographical and critical Memoir of the Author, by Dugald Stewart (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853)
First Pub. Date: 1790
Publisher: London: A. Millar
The 6th edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and the last published in Smith's lifetime, is available in full online.