By Vivienne Brown
The 1st ebook on Adam Smith to accommodate fresh debates in literary thought, this interdisciplinary examine examines Smith's significant texts and underscores the deep ambivalences and tensions in his paintings.
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Extra info for Brown - Adam Smiths discourse
2 The previous chapter examined the argument of LRBL in favour of a plain and easy style, and it concluded that such an approach to language was inadequate as a guide to reading Smith’s own texts. Smith’s writing appears easy and elegant, not obscure, but in spite of its own precept it was at times deeply metaphorical and intricately textured. The primary and emblematic metaphor of the moral discourse of TMS is that of the ‘impartial spectator’, the mechanism by which a moral agent makes judgments concerning himself5 and others.
Instead of being the one and only voice of the text, the authorial voice becomes one among many; instead of controlling the text, it takes the risk of being upstaged or of finding its own uncertainties inscribed within the dialogic structure. And this too can be seen unfolding in TMS. The ‘dark’ side of TMS has on occasion been remarked on,26 but it has been difficult for commentators to know how to read this other side of TMS with its cynicism about vanity and self-deceit, and its pessimism and irony about virtue’s place in this world.
Here the voice of humanity is used as an informal way of introducing and illustrating the more elevated or general arguments provided by the didactic voice. An example of this is provided by the passage where the word ‘spectator’ is first introduced: Neither is it those circumstances only, which create pain or sorrow, that call forth our fellow-feeling. Whatever is the passion which arises from any object in the person principally concerned, an analogous emotion springs up, at the thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive spectator.