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Sing the RageListening to Anger after Mass Violence$
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Sonali Chakravarti

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226119984

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226120041.001.0001

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The Second Skeptic

The Second Skeptic

Adam Smith and the Visualization of Sympathy

Chapter:
(p.106) Chapter Four The Second Skeptic
Source:
Sing the Rage
Author(s):

Sonali Chakravarti

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226120041.003.0005

In his Theory of Moral Sentiments Adam Smith argues that while sympathy does not negate pain, it is the most comforting response citizens can receive from others, even when they express anger and resentment. At the same time, Smith is surprisingly caustic in relation to those who express the “detestable passions,” taking the expression of these passions as a threat to civil society and the object of universal condemnation. Why does a theorist who pays so much attention to the complexity of the communication of pain take such a harsh position in relation to anger? The chapter posits that the answer lies with Smith’s understanding of sympathy within the idiom of a visual model, one that balances a concern for sympathy with an emphasis on distance, clarity, and proportionality.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, Anger, Resentment, Sympathy, Impartial spectator, Proportionality

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