The Theory of Moral Sentiments models a precusor to economic science


This is the blogger with his dog, taken with a nod to Philip Greenspun.
The glass in the picture holds fresh squeezed pear juice and the clutter in the background is
 solar water heater plumbing parts.

     The writing in The Theory of Moral Sentiments is 250 years old. The text was developed as a course for college undergraduates, and it includes many asides, anecdotes and hypothetical situations that are entertaining and defy casual reading.In some ways, the book is like a 250 page Socratic monologue. Adam Smith is definitely performing philosophy. And he also engages very respectably with one of the central questions of philosophy, namely "What is Virtue?

   I find it interesting to look at The Theory of Moral Sentiments as a kind of pre-economic thinking. The Moral Sentiments are scores of propositions developed and explored. Acts of generosity, acts of jealous husbands, thoughts and deeds are described and explored.

  For example, the Theory of Moral Sentiments dwells on propositions including wealth and life, but it does not focus on the specific entities of  time and money

   In contrast, the science of economics uses time and money  as units to study. So economics gains mathematical rigor and it abandons the huge colorful tapestry of the set of Moral Sentiments objects.

   So I look at Paradise Lost The Decline of the Auto-Industrial Age as a writing as a piece of writing that has a lot in common with The Theory of Moral Sentiments

    In my own analysis of problems with the public bus systems, I think you will recognize, the micro economic analysis of time and distance and money and distance propositions are quite dispiriting.



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