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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Book

Theory of Moral Sentiments

Adam Smith

1759

2017-01-08

"Paintings or models of the instruments of music or of agriculture make a common and an agreeable ornament of our halls and dining-rooms. A display of that kind composed of the instruments of surgery—dissecting and amputation-knives, saws for cutting the bones, trepanning instruments, etc.—would be absurd and shocking. Yet instruments of surgery are always more finely polished, and usually more exactly adapted to their intended purpose, than instruments of agriculture. And their remote effect—the health of the patient—is agreeable. But because their immediate effect is pain and suffering, the sight of them always displeases us. Swords and such are liked, associated with courage etc., and even wanted as fashion accessories. It’s true that their immediate effects are pain and suffering, but only for ‘our enemies, with whom we have no sympathy." - Theory of Moral Sentiments