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SMITH, Adam.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

London: for A. Millar, and A. Kincaid and J. Bell, in Edinburgh, 1759 Stock Code: 136185
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First edition, published in April 1759 with a recorded "print run of 1,000 copies" (Sher, Early Editions of Adam's Smith's Books, 13). Smith's first book and his later Wealth of Nations demonstrate "a great unifying principle Smith's ethics and his economics are integrated by the same principle of self-command, or self-reliance, which manifests itself in economics in laissez faire" (Spiegel).

Smith's famous phrase is first used here that would be repeated in the later work: that self-seeking men are often "led by an invisible hand without knowing it, without intending it, to advance the interest of the society" (Part IV, Chapter 1).

"The fruit of his Glasgow years The Theory of Moral Sentiments would be enough to assure the author a respected place among Scottish moral philosophers, and Smith himself ranked it above the Wealth of Nations. Its central idea is the concept, closely related to conscience, of the impartial spectator who helps man to distinguish right from wrong. For the same purpose, Immanuel Kant invented the categorical imperative and Sigmund Freud the superego" (Niehans, 62).

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Octavo (208 x 122 mm). Twentieth-century sprinkled and panelled calf, spine ruled gilt in compartments, red morocco label to style, red edges.


Complete with half-title and errata on last leaf; pp. 317-336 omitted, as issued, text and register complete.


Lightly spotted throughout, more heavily in places, one or two leaves with light creases. Original free endpapers bound in, bearing the early ink ownership inscription of one William Radecliffe and the purchase price of 6 shillings. Half-title verso annotated "a very good book" with a further note to the title, "Moral but scientific & most formative", with scattered marginal reading notes throughout in two early hands; a very good copy.


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