Adam Smith's Simplified Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 1, Section 2, Chapter 1: The Bodily Passions


1 The spectator can go along with our feelings which lie in a certain mediocrity.

  • We call excessive grief as 'weakness' and 'fury'.
  • 2 However, this proper mediocrity is different in different feelings.

  • There are others of which the strongest expressions are extremely graceful.
  • All feelings are decent or indecent depending on the sympathy it gets from other people.
  • Chapter 1: The Bodily Sensations

    Bodily Sensations are indecent to express because the bodies of others might not feel the same sensations

    3 It is indecent to strongly express the feelings from the body because others, who are not in the same disposition, cannot be expected to sympathize with them.

  • The body's disposition makes his stomach easily keep time with the hungry man, and not with the man who hates to eat.
  • 1.2.4 It is the same case with the passion by which Nature unites the two sexes. 1.2.5 Such is our aversion for all the appetites originating from the body: 1.2.6 The virtue of temperance is founded in the command of those bodily appetites. 1.2.7 2. For the same reason, crying out with bodily pain, no matter how intolerable, always appears unmanly and unbecoming. 1.2.8. It is quite otherwise with those passions originating from the imagination. 1.2.9. The loss of a leg may generally be regarded as a more real calamity than the loss of a mistress. 1.2.10. Nothing is so soon forgotten as pain. 1.2.11. Pain only brings lively sympathy when accompanied with danger. 1.2.12. Some people faint and grow sick at the sight of a surgery. 1.2.13. In some Greek tragedies, there is an attempt to excite compassion through the agonies of bodily pain. 1.2.14. The little sympathy which we feel with bodily pain is the foundation of the propriety of constancy and patience in enduring it.
  • His firmness enables him to keep time with our indifference and insensibility.
  • Admiration is made up of approval, mixed and animated by wonder and surprise.
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    Next: Chapter 2: Passions from the Imagination -- Romantic Love