Adam Smith's Simplified Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 1, Section 1, Chapter 3: How we judge the feelings of others

Chapter 3: How we judge the feelings of others

We judge the propriety of the feelings of others by our sympathy or lack of sympathy with them

20 When the feelings of the observee perfectly concords with the observer's sympathies, they appear suitable to the observer.


To approve of another man's opinions is to adopt those opinions.

22 There are some cases in which we approve without any correspondence of feelings.
  • We may often approve of a joke.
  • 1.1.23 The same thing often happens with all the other passions.

    The morality of an action depends on that action's cause (proper/improper) and effect (merit/demerit)

    24 The goodness or badness of a feeling that creates any action may be considered under two aspects:

    1. In relation to its cause or motive that creates the feeling
    2. In relation to its end or effect which the feeling tends to produce

    25 An action's propriety or impropriety depends on the suitableness or unsuitableness of the feeling that caused it.

    26 An action's merit or demerit depends on the feeling's beneficial or harmful aims.

    27 Philosophers have recently chiefly considered the tendency of affections.

    28 When we judge of any affection as proportional or disproportional to its cause, we use our own affections as the rule.

    29 Each man measures the faculty of others according to his own faculty.

    Words: 955
    Next: Chapter 4: Continuation