Adam Smith, the Professor from Kirkcaldy
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Moral Society and the Impartial Spectator
Author: Pablo PaniaguaEditor: Victoria Finn
“Smith sought to do for moral philosophy what Isaac Newton had done for natural philosophy: to imagine and represent those invisible connecting principles that determine the course of nature. Newton's natural philosophical realm encompassed all in nature that envelopes humankind. Smith's moral philosophical realm was humankind
“Government authority emerges to establish order in society, but government is neither the original source of order nor the locus of control that establishesorder in the ideal state. Order begins and ends with the individual citizen. Inthe beginning, a rude order is established by retribution based on a self-defined sense of justice. In the end, in the limit, a refined order is established by common acceptance of social norms, civic ethics, among citizens with self-command, the self-government, to enforce those norms about them-selves.Between this beginning and this end, in the course of humankind’s evolution from the rude state towards the ideal, the internal and external systems of governance-norms and positive laws respectively-share one another as systems of justice evolve.”
“Ambition, avarice, self-love, vanity, friendship, generosity, public spirit;these passions mixed in various degrees, and distributed through society,have been from the beginning of the world and still are the source of all actions and enterprise which have ever been observed among”.
Adam Smith Adam Smith, an enlightened life in the right place: Scotland:
Probably today in the Western World and also in several ex-Communist countries, everyonehas heard about Adam Smith. The Scottish professor of Moral Philosophy is probably amongthe most cited, known and mentioned Economists in the world. However Adam Smith is alsoprobably one of the least read and one of the most misrepresented, misunderstood andcontroversial figures in economic history. The misconceptions and controversy surroundinghim are due to several poor one-sided interpretations of his work, attributed mostly to anarrow analysis of his political economic publication “
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causesof the Wealth of Nations
(WN). In order to better understand Adam Smith’s economic-socialholistic framework and his final scope as an author, one must first understand his lesser knownfirst book, “
The Theory of Moral Sentiments
(TMS). In this essay I will try to address Smith’scomprehensive view of society, the evolution of consciousness and human behavior throughmy interpretation of the TMS, mostly using the work of more recent scholars who havecontributed to better understanding Smith’s Moral Theory; their novel analyses have situatedAdam Smith in a higher and more humanitarian position, far beyond what had beenimaginable three decades ago.