A CORNERSTONE OF ANY ECONOMICS COLLECTION AND THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE "INVISIBLE HAND": SCARCE 1801 EDITION OF ADAM SMITH'S IMPORTANT FIRST WORK, THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS
SMITH, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments… To Which Is Added, A Dissertation on the Origin of Languages. London: Printed for T. Cadell jun. and W. Davies, 1801. Two volumes. Octavo, contemporary full speckled calf gilt. $3500.
1801 edition of Smith's pioneering first book, a work which he himself ranked above Wealth of Nations and which served as its foundation, both works demonstrating "a greater unifying principle…Smith's ethics and his economics are integrated by the same principle of self-command, or self-reliance, which manifests itself in economics in laissez faire" (Spiegel), scarce in contemporary calf.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments laid the foundation on which The Wealth of Nations was later to be built and proposed the theory which would be repeated in the later work: that self-seeking men are often "led by an invisible hand… without knowing it, without intending it, to advance the interest of the society." "The fruit of his Glasgow years… The Theory of Moral Sentiments would be enough to assure the author a respected place among Scottish moral philosophers, and Smith himself ranked it above the Wealth of Nations… Its central idea is the concept, closely related to conscience, of the impartial spectator who helps man to distinguish right from wrong. For the same purpose, Immanuel Kant invented the categorical imperative and Sigmund Freud the superego" (Niehans, 62). With the Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations Smith aimed to compose "not merely a treatise on moral philosophy and a treatise on economics, but a complete moral and political philosophy, in which the two elements of history and theory were to be closely conjoined" (Palgrave III:412-13). "Smith's ethics and his economics are integrated by the same principle of self-command, or self-reliance, which manifests itself in economics in laissez faire" (Spiegel, 231). First published in 1759; "Ninth Edition" stated on title pages. With half titles. See Kress 5815; Goldsmith 9537; ESTC T141578. Owner ink signature to half title of Volume I (partially erased).
Interiors clean and fine, light rubbing to joints, bindings sound and attractive. A desirable copy in contemporary calf.