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The Theatre of Moral Sentiments: Neoclassical Dramaturgy and Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator

The Theatre of Moral Sentiments: Neoclassical Dramaturgy and Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator <p>Abstract:</p><p>The oft-cited theatricality of Adam Smith’s impartial spectator is contentious and rests on a generalized notion of theatre. This essay argues both that Smith, like his predecessors in sentimental moral philosophy, thought of spectatorship theatrically and that Smith’s spectatorship framework is rooted in French neoclassical dramaturgy. Smith’s formulation of sympathy in the <i>Theory of Moral Sentiments</i> bolsters this view, as does the correspondence between Smith’s definition of impartiality and the neoclassical formal isolation of spectators from the interests of protagonists. These facets of spectatorship are the basis of an impersonal mode that prevails in Smith’s social theory of morals.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the History of Ideas University of Pennsylvania Press

The Theatre of Moral Sentiments: Neoclassical Dramaturgy and Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator

Journal of the History of Ideas , Volume 81 (4) – Nov 6, 2020

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Journal of the History of Ideas, Inc.
ISSN
1086-3222

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>The oft-cited theatricality of Adam Smith’s impartial spectator is contentious and rests on a generalized notion of theatre. This essay argues both that Smith, like his predecessors in sentimental moral philosophy, thought of spectatorship theatrically and that Smith’s spectatorship framework is rooted in French neoclassical dramaturgy. Smith’s formulation of sympathy in the <i>Theory of Moral Sentiments</i> bolsters this view, as does the correspondence between Smith’s definition of impartiality and the neoclassical formal isolation of spectators from the interests of protagonists. These facets of spectatorship are the basis of an impersonal mode that prevails in Smith’s social theory of morals.</p>

Journal

Journal of the History of IdeasUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Nov 6, 2020

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