Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment / Edition 1

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Although Adam Smith is often thought of today as an economist, he was in fact (as his great contemporaries Hume, Burke, Kant, and Hegel recognized) an original and insightful thinker whose work covers an immense territory including moral philosophy, political economy, rhetorical theory, aesthetics, and jurisprudence. Charles Griswold has written the first comprehensive philosophical study of Smith's moral and political thought. Griswold sets Smith's work in the context of the continuing debate about the nature and survival of the Enlightenment, and relates it to current discussions in moral and political philosophy. Smith's appropriation as well as criticism of ancient philosophy, and his carefully balanced defense of a liberal and humane moral and political outlook, are also explored. This is a major reassessment of a key figure in modernity that will be of particular interest to philosophers and political and legal theorists, as well as historians of ideas, rhetoric, and political economy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In a rich and detailed examination of The Theory of Moral Sentiments Griswold presents Smith as a rhetorically sophisticated dialectical thinker, defending Enlightenment values while aware of their profound costs, seeking a philosophical system while distrustful of the system, and aiming to guard ordinary moral life against excessive reflection. This is a major study, resting on a thorough rethinking of all of Smith's work. Griswold shows Smith to be a more complex moral thinker than he has been taken to be, and one far more pertinent to current issues." Jerome B. Schneewind, The Johns Hopkins University

"With one eye on the eighteenth century and the other on our current predicament, Charles Griswold's Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment is wonderfully interesting and informative, philosophically stimulating and acute, and beautifully written." Stephen Darwall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

"...written for an audience of professional philosophers. But it is also exemplary in spelling out many of Smith's arguments and subjecting them to analytic scrutiny." Jerry Z. Muller, The Wall Street Journal

"...rewarding for economists seeking a deeper understanding of Smith's ideas." Choice

" is perhaps not surprising that Smith has sen something of a renaissance, with numerous studies published that help to restore him to his rightful place in the Western tradition. At the top of this list is Charles Griswold's excellent new book, Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment. Griswold Performs a valuable service by showing us that one of the Enlightenment's most important founding thinkers believed that liberal commercial societies were dependent on, productive of, and ultimately legitimated not by wealth or freedom but by virtue. Griswold walks us through Smith's highly complex account...." The Public Interest

"...pathbreaking..." Charles Larmore, The New Republic

"Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment is written by and largely for philosophers...Yet it should be studied by all who are interested in Adam Smith; it may fundamentally change the way they view Smith...Griswold's work merits a careful, deep reading by a large part of the contemporary literati." The Annals of the American Academy

"...brilliant study...Griswold's book illuminates a wide range of themes in Smith's moral philosophy..." Journal of the History of Philosophy

Jerry Z. Muller
[Griswold's] book is written for an audience of professional philosophers. But it is also exemplary in spelling out many of Smith's arguments and subjecting them to analytic scrutiny. If reading it requires effort, the reward is substantial. -- The Wall Street Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521628914
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2011
  • Series: Modern European Philosophy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 412
  • Sales rank: 1,275,884
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

Texts and acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Rhetoric, method, and system in The Theory of Moral Sentiments; 2. Sympathy and selfishness, imagination and self; 3. The passions, pleasure, and the impartial spectator; 4. Philosophy and skepticism; 5. The theory of virtue; 6. Justice; 7. The moral sentiments and The Wealth of Nations; 8. Philosophy, imagination, and the fragility of beauty: on reconciliation with nature; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.

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