was well-received in its time, but failed to attract a following in the 19th century.
Psychology and social psychology would not be distinguished from natural philosophy until over a hundred years later.
Smith sought to explain through systematic analysis disciplined by “experiments”.
In other words, he sought to explain using test cases.
Published posthumously (Smith, 1795), this work is a testimony to Smith’s early admiration for the Newtonian system and provides a glimpse into his scientific program and its inspiration.
This essay is about Wonder, Surprise, and Admiration—sentiments that fuel the human imagination and curiosity, helping us to understand and explain the observed order in the physical world.Others always mark their approval or disapproval of our actions in response to the benefits or hurts they feel.In this conjunction with others, we each gradually come to see ourselves as others see us.Smith’s system rested on axioms about human behavior: we go through a social maturation process, we exhibit self-love, self-command, and an asymmetry between our feelings of joy and sorrow; and three principles of human conduct: human sociality as the driver of our motivation, our tendency toward social mediation, and our love of what is honorable.These axioms and principles help describes the steps in the social maturation process, through which from birth we learn to “humble the arrogance of our self-love and bring it down to what others will go along with” (Smith, 1759, p 83).As we socially mature, we naturally bring ourselves in line with society.Smith’s fundamental axiom underlying human conduct is self-love; technically, in modern language, we are explicitly said to be “self-interested” and never satiated.Similarly, Adam Smith observed order in human social, political, and economic life as expressed in Roman and Greek history down to the Northern European cultures that surrounded him.Smith’s program, and that of others in the Scottish Enlightenment, was to inspire and launch a methodology for discovering the forces in human sociality and economy that governed and shaped that order but were invisible to human awareness.Fellow-feeling provides the experiential foundation for our rule-following conduct and constitutes the evolutionary basis for human sociality.Similarly, gravity in Newtonian physics was a primitive concept known by the work it does in governing the orderly motion of all bodies in the observable universe, as it was known in Newton’s time.