Adam Smith's Simplified Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 1, Section 1, Chapter 4: How we judge the feelings of others, continued

Chapter 4: How we judge, Continued

When can we make moral judgements on others?

30 We may judge of the morality of another person's feelings by their correspondence or disagreement with our own, on two occasions:

  1. When the cause of such feelings are unrelated to us or the other person, or
  2. When the cause of such feelings affect us

31 1. When the cause of such feelings are unrelated to us or the other person, we ascribe good taste and judgment to the other person if his feelings correspond to ours.

32 When our friend's feelings easily coincide with our own, we think that he deserves no praise.

  • A man must certainly be approved of by all the world if he judges that:
  • But he surely will not be much admired.
  • Our admiration is excited and our applause is deserved by:
  • The praise for the intellectual virtues is based on this admiration.
  • 1.1.33 The utility of those qualities first recommends those people to us and gives those people a new value. 1.1.34 2. With regard to those objects which affect us or the person observed, it is more difficult to preserve this harmony and correspondence. 1.1.35 In all such cases, there may be some correspondence of sentiments between the observer and the person observed. 1.1.36 After all this, the observer's emotions will still fall short of what is felt by the sufferer.
  • These thoughts do not hinder us from conceiving a passion similar to what is felt by the sufferer.
  • The person observed is knows this.
  • His sole consolation is seeing the emotions of our hearts beat in time to his own during those disagreeable passions.
  • What they feel will always be different from what he feels.
  • The imagination of observer and the voluntary reduction of observed person's passion, may correspond with one another.
  • This correspondence is sufficient for the harmony of society.
  • Though they will never be unisons, they may be concords.
  • This is all that is wanted or required.
  • 1.1.37 To produce this concord, nature teaches the observers to assume the circumstances of the person observed just as she teaches the person observed to assume the circumstances of the observers.


    1.1.38 Friends restore the mind to some degree of tranquility and sedateness. 39 Therefore, society and conversation are: Speculators and retired men who sit brooding at home over grief or resentment seldom possess that equality of temper which is so common among men of the world.
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    Next: Chapter 5: Amiable and Respectable Virtues