Moral Sentiments: Ancient and Modern Sources of Smith’s Moral Theory


Drawing from Enlightenment authors and some of their classical sources, this colloquium focused on the idea of sympathy or fellow feeling. As a motivator of human action, sympathy offers a foundation for accounts of human sociability and peaceful interaction that do not require Hobbesian government and that were central to the social theorizing of Hume and Adam Smith.


Conference Readings

Condorcet, Marie-Louise-Sophie de Grouchy, marquise de. Letters on Sympathy. Edited by Karen Brown. Translated by James E. McClellan, III. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2008.

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Plotinus. Ethical Treatises; the Books of the Fourth Ennead. Translated by Stephen Mackenna. Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Emile: or On Education. Translated by Allan Bloom. New York: Basic Books, 1979.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Discourses and other early political writings. Edited by Victor Gourevitch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Edited by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1982.

Variety of ancient sources, all public domain. De Divinatione. Translated by Latin text with facing English translation by W. A. Falconer. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1923.