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Content Summary: Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments outlines his belief that our morality comes from our natural sentiments and our sense, not only of self-love, but also of the need of the approval and affection of others. Morality comes, in short, from our emotional need of approval, in tandem with the "Impartial Spectator", a kind of voice of conscience and reason that evaluates our conduct in comparison and contrast with that of our peers. Morality must be rooted primarily in sentiment and in reason for Smith. While human beings have a self-centered capacity, this is not exclusive in its orientation, as our need for other's approval and support forces us to constantly consult our feelings and our "impartial spectators" within our breast. Belief in God or Providence, for Smith, will undoubtedly help in this endeavor.Analytical Review: Those who think Smith emphasized the Invisible Hand in his works should read this book as a corrective. Smith mentions the "Invisible Hand" just 3 times in all his writings. The "Impartial Spectator', I would guess, is mentioned well over a 100 times in this work, and plays a pervasive part throughout Smith's work. Humans are not inherently self-interested. Although we have a strong capacity to be self-interested, the Impartial Spectator in our mind always watches over our shoulder and that of our social peers, adjusting our conduct. Smith places a high emphasis on Stoic virtues such as self-command (control), and while he does approve of social rank an order and is a conservative here, he also indicates some clear sense of responsibility and giving back to society.I find aspects of Smith's theory compelling, but parts of his book also overwritten. Amidst some large tracks of tediously written text, however, are a few gems of wisdom for the ages.
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