Adam Smith et le compte rendu (1756) du Discours sur l’inégalité parmi les hommes de Rousseau

In Michel-E. Slatkine (ed.), Vitam Impendere Vero : Hommage à Raymond Trousson et Frédéric S. Eigeldinger. Genève-Paris: Slatkine-Champion. pp. 263-274 (2012)

Daniel Schulthess
Université de Neuchâtel
The article is about Adam Smith’s short account of J. J. Rousseau’s Deuxième Discours in a Letter to the Edinburgh Review (1756). Special attention is payed to how the report deals with its subject. Smith proposes a surprising rapprochement between Rousseau and Mandeville. Both deny the natural sociability of man (while recognizing his aptitude to pity others) and show the biased nature of the principles of civil life. The difference would be only “stylistic”: whereas the “aristocrat” Mandeville makes the apologue of the civil life in the commercial society the “republican” Rousseau criticizes it and affirms the superiority of the state of nature. In his own TMS Smith develops a theory of “sympathy” that can be understood as a critique of the negation of natural sociability common to both Mandeville and Rousseau.
Keywords Moral Philosophy  Political Philosophy  Adam Smith  J.J. Rousseau  Mandeville  Natural Sociability  Civil Life  State of Nature
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