Adam Smith Reading for 10/7
Attached you will find selections from Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) that you are to read for class on 10/7, along with Thomas Jefferson’s The Declaration of Independence and selected letters of John and Abigail Adams. Some of you may have heard of Adam Smith for his more famous work The Wealth of Nations (1775), which is considered by some to be the blueprint of modern capitalism.
For some, when you hear the word “sentimentalism” or “sentimental” you might think of the melodramatic, the manipulative, or over-the-top emotionalism and you probably don’t think of the founding of the United States or philosophy. But sentimentalism (or “sympathy” or “sensibility” as it was also known) is a philosophical movement particularly prominent in 18th century Scottish philosophy. These Scottish Enlightenment figures (like Smith, or Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and others) had remarkable impact on the literate peoples of the English colonial world. This small sampling from Smith will hopefully give us a sense of how sentiment operates in this context and how it comes to influence the Revolutionary War and the formation of the United States.
Click here to download the pdf and please bring it to class next Friday.