The Theory of Moral Sentiments

This was Adam Smith’s first book. (As well as his last—he revised it significantly and republished it later.) It was first published in April 1759. Smith examined “a life well lived” and what it meant to be a good and happy person. He proposed that we learn the difference between good and bad behavior from one another as well as by thinking of an “impartial spectator” (some would call it our conscience) who observes and judges our behavior.

Quotes from The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

“We are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it.”

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another...”

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”

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