Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 20

THE STRUCTION OF MASCULINE IDENTITY IN THE THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS By Dr.

Edith Kuiper Faculty of Economics & Econometrics Universiteit van Amsterdam Florence, 10 December 2001 ABSTRACT: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) by Adam Smith has recently been rediscovered as a source of information about the moral contents of the Wealth of Nations, and broader of the market economy. This paper addresses the gender content of the Theory of Moral Sentiments and argues that the hierarchical and asymmetrical perceptions of masculinity and femininity that is used and constructed in this text, is fundamental to Smiths perception of identity and moral behavior. Including gender in the assessment of this text and the view of morality here proposed, provides a new perspective on this seminal work in economic science. Page 2
2

THE CONSTRUCTION OF MASCULINE IDENTITY IN ADAM SMITHS THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS 1. Introduction In recent years historians of economic science and those working on ethics and economics has shown an increased interest in the Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) as a philosophical basis for the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes and Wealth of Nations (1776). Where the Wealth of Nations deals with the selfinterested behavior of people and the invisible hand as the ruling principle of capitalist society, the Theory of Moral Sentiments addressed the moral aspects of human relations. Although it is still a topic of debate how these books exactly are linked, the Theory of Moral Sentiments appears to provide important information about Smiths perception of moral behavior in modern society. As such it provides a source for discussions on the (implicit) moral content of the market economy and economics. Some even see the book as containing feminist notions of human identity and relations (McCloskey 1996, Van Staveren 2001). The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) addresses aspects of life and morality that contain a broader view on human behavior than is usually applied by economists, discussing sympathy, passions, and virtues. However, reading this text now as a woman of the twentieth century,
1

the book appears to be more thoroughly masculine in its content, than is yet acknowledged.
2

The TMS constructs a view on moral life that not only focuses on men but also describes men in opposition to women, in a world in which women are both absent and superfluous. This specific conceptualization of human morality, behavior and identity have been reoccurring through the history of economic science in the last two centuries. Acknowledging and recognizing its masculine character will not only provide a new and broader perspective on Smiths description of moral
1

The term reading s a women was coined by Culler (1983).


2

Pujol (1992), Folbre (1990) and Grappard (1993) stress that Smith (1759) does not articulate or address the moral behavior of women, but direct their analyses to the Wealth of Nations (1776).

Page 3
3

behavior but also suggests ways to go beyond the one-sided focus on what Smith identifies as masculine virtues and ideals of personhood. The Theory of Moral Sentiments will here be addressed as a text, as a concrete part of economic literature, focussing on Smiths use of language and metaphors in relation to gender. When we read (parts of) the TMS today and thus give meaning to this text within a contemporary context, the reader may easily overlook some important features. For instance, Smiths use of the concepts Man, man and men is generally read as generic; as to address both men and women. Although the gendered meaning of these concepts is no longer contested in fields like history or literature, this insight and its consequences have not yet been acknowledged in economics. One of the commentators on Adam Smiths work, who does acknowledge that Smith refers to men, is Viviane Brown in her book on Adam Smiths discourse (1992). However, I believe that Brown fails to acknowledge the full extent of its implications. Brown stresses the open and dialogical style of the TMS and highlights Smiths attention for the personal feelings and inclinations of the agent. Taking Smiths masculine perspective into account however, we come to see that the TMS is less open in the sense that it systematically makes the reader identify with a masculine perspective. Moral behavior is thus to be attained by identification with the impartial spectator and by self-command, in which manhood and the suppression of personal feelings play and important role. These and other implications of the gendered character of the TMS for Smiths perception of moral behavior are the subject of this article. After outlining the main content and contributions of the TMS, Smiths conceptualization of sympathy and the impartial spectator are explained. Subsequently Smiths perception of women and men and gender relations are discussed. Then I turn to the text of the book and indicate various steps in Smiths conceptualization of moral behavior, also discussing the main changes through the six editions of the TMS. Thus I point out that Smiths perception of mens moral behavior has strong masculine features and goes with a one-sided and what can be seen as an immature attitude towards women and reality. I finish with some reflections Smith made on his own use of language in the last chapter of the TMS. Page 4
4

2. The Theory of Moral Sentiments


3

Adam Smiths Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) is one of the last in a long line of discourses on the Nature of Man.
4

The TMS was regarded by contemporaries and by Smith himself as his most important work; he worked on revising editions during his entire life. Smith completed the last, sixth edition two years before his

death in 1790. The view articulated in the TMS were not particularly novel but together they formed an ingenious and coherent perception of the moral agent in which various insights and contemporary discussions came together. On the content and structure of the book In the TMS, Smith articulates his views on the way men come to moral judgements or, as the subtitle to the fourth edition of this work states, its is An Essay towards an Analysis of the Principles by which Men naturally judge concerning the Conduct and Character, first of their Neighbors, and afterwards themselves. (Raphael & MacFie, 1984, 40) The TMS starts with a discussion of property,
5

more specifically with the explanation of sympathy


6

and the way judgements of conduct are made. At the end of Part I, Smith distinguishes two kinds of virtues, the soft and amiable such as humanity
7

and the virtues of selfdenial and self-government. Where the former is considered as mere propriety and the latter as a virtue which has to be attained, both are considered as essential to constitute the perfection of human nature. After the discussion of various sorts of passions in Part II, Smith deals with ambition, ranks, vanity, the causes of approbation and disapprobation and the ways to achieve the respect of ones fellow men. As an elaboration of these last
3

I make use here of the 1984 reprint of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith [1974] edited by D.D. Raphael & A.L. MacFie.
4

See e.g. John Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690), Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan, 1651), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discours on Inequality, 1755?), A. Shaftesbury (Characteritics of Men, Manners Opinions, Times, 1711), Davis Hartley (Observations on Man, 1749), Francis Hutcheson (A System of Moral Philosophy, 1755), Lvesques de Pouilly (The Theory of Agreeable Sensations, 1749).
5

Propriety (decency) consists in Smiths view of a mediocracy of passions. (TMS, I.ii.intro.1)


6

Sympathy is very broadly defined by Smith as our fellow-feeling with any passions whatever. (TMS, I.i.1.5)
7

Humanity, the common quality of fellow-feeling: being kind, thoughtful, sympathetic to other people. Smith states about this virtue that it requires, surely, a sensibility, much beyond what is possessed by the rude vulgar of mankind. (TMS, I.i.5.6)

Page 5
5

aspects, Smith discusses merit and demerit, more specifically the legitimate basis of reward and punishment. In the distinction and judgements made here, sympathy provides the main foundation. Though society will flourish when benevolence between its members flourishes, Smith stresses that it cannot subsist which justice is absent. Justice in turn cannot be constituted by the gentle virtues alone but has to be kept by more forceful means. Although most men will strive for praise, Fortune may very well disturb their course, forcing men to live up to calamities. After having discussed the foundation of the judgement of others, Smith turns in Part III to the foundation of self-judgement and of the sense of

Duty. He explains here the constitution of the impartial spectator and stresses the importance of praise-worthiness over praise. Identification with the impartial spectator provides man with the right to judge his brethren, because the perspective thus attained is not that of the interested agent, but of a third instance the demi-god-within. Smith allows for various attachments in the private sphere; he sooner blames the one who appears insensible to his children or to the death of his father, then to those that show too much feelings. Subsequently, he discusses self-command, the opposite of weakness, and how to achieve it. Smith indicates the existence and importance of general moral rules or the sense of duty for the guidance of daily behavior, to help men to refrain from despicable behavior and to be trustworthy. Smith declares these general moral rules as laws of the Deity or natural laws (TMS, III.5.6). Having stated these natural laws, Smith discusses in Part IV and V the influence of utility and of custom, which in various instances appear to go against these general rules, but can, in Smiths view, never really change them. In Part IV Smith discusses in more detail the Character of Virtue and describes the features of the prudent man. He first deals with the individual in relation to other people; his children, parents and his friends, and then his relation to the nation. Finally, he discusses benevolence at a universal level and finishes Part VI with a full chord on self-command. The last part, Part VII, contains Smiths lectures on systems of moral philosophy. By discussing the view of Greek philosophers from Aristotle to Plato and Zeno (the Stoics) and of contemporaries like Hutcheson, Hume and Mandeville, Smith explicates here his own views on various issues. Page 6
6

Main contributions of the TMS It are the concepts if imaginative sympathy and of the impartial spectator, both central to the TMS, that are considered as Smiths major contributions to the moral philosophy of his time (Raphael, 1975, 85). Imaginative sympathy, as Smith understands it, is not the experience of other peoples feelings but of our own as we would live them in a similar situation. Smith thought it impossible for people to have direct knowledge of the passions of other human beings. He paints the human lack, indicating the very impossibility between people to directly conceive the way other people experience things.
My companion does not naturally look upon the misfortune that has befallen me, or the injury that has been done me, from the same point of view in which I consider them. They affect me much more nearly. We do not view them from the same station, as we do a picture, or a poem, or a system of philosophy, and are, therefore, apt to be very differently affected by them (TMS, I.i.4.5)

The imagination of the feelings that go with a specific situation, however, is limited by ones own experiences with similar cases. This implies that the sympathy, that can be expected from others, is limited by their experiences and approval. The process of sympathy goes together with a judgement of conduct of the other. If they coincide with our own emotions they are being approved of and otherwise disapproved.
Every faculty in one man is the measure by which he judges of the like faculty in

another. I judge of your sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of your reason by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of your love by my love. I neither have, nor can have, any other way of judging about them. (TMS, I.i.3.10)

The imaginative sympathy can fail in cases of extreme joy or sorrow. In these cases, the moral judgement of ones behavior will be negative as the others cannot follow the emotions shown. In order to make it possible for others to sympathize with them, people will tend to adjust their behavior and their passions. This evokes a certain mediocracy of feelings, something Smith considers as positive, since this Page 7
7

makes it possible to reflect on ones own passions and emotions. According to Smith, society enables someone to
think of his own character, of the propriety or demerit of his own sentiments and conduct, of the beauty or deformity of his own mind (TMS, III.1.3).

In Smiths view, civilization becomes only possible in the company of others who mirror ones behavior. Smith continues with drawing a similar but slightly different picture of the process, which takes place when men judge themselves; this is where Smith introduces the impartial spectator. As men aim at being approved of by society, moral judgements of fellow men will be of influence on the way they perceive themselves and invoke them to bring their feelings and actions in harmony with those of society. The perceived demands and approvals of other people and what the person himself approves of in other men come together in Smiths impartial spectator. The impartial spectator is the imagined spectator-within who judges conduct irrespective to ones own situation or passions. Smith states upon this that
It is not the soft power of humanity, it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus capable of counteracting the strongest impulses of self-love. It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct. [...] It is from him only that we learn the real littleness of ourselves, and of whatever relates to ourselves, and the natural misrepresentations of self-love can be corrected only by the eye of this impartial spectator. It is [...] the love of what is honourable and noble, of the grandeur, and dignity, and superiority of our own characters. (TMS, III.3.4)

It is by identifying with this impartial spectator that Man obtains the power and legitimacy to judge his brethren. Page 8
8

3. Smiths perception of gender When we focus on Smiths conceptualization of gender we see that Smith makes distinctions between women and men in the TMS, and ascribes to each of them different tasks, behavior and features (see also Pujol, 1992). Women are to be treated differently from men (e.g. TMS, I.ii.1.2; TMS VII.iii.3.13) and gender relations are described from the perspectives of men (only). For instance, where he talks about friendship between men and men and between women and men:
The friendship which we conceive for a man is different from that with which a woman affects us, even when there is no mixture of any grosser passion

(TMS, VII.iv.4) Smith discusses various forms of love between men and women; love as a passion

that has its origin from the body and as a passion that is of an imaginary kind. Passions are conceived by Smith as excited by objects peculiarly related to ourselves. (TMS, I.ii.intro.1) Passions for women thus perceived, are excited by women, the objects of the passions. These passions, which have their origin either in the body or in the imagination, require control and domination, so mediocracy becomes possible and others will be able to enter them, to sympathize with them. In the case in which passions of men for women take their origin mainly from the body, Smith consider it hard to sympathize with the feelings of the man in love. Smith refers to this kind of love as an indecent passion. Whereas men who give in to such kind of feelings are in no high esteem with Smith, he has contempt for the object of their love, who is literally looked upon as dirt.
When we have dined, we order the covers to be removed; and we should treat in the same manner the objects of the most ardent and passionate desires, if they were the objects of no other passions but those which take their origin from the body.

(TMS, I.ii.1.3) For Smith, it is much easier to sympathize with those who are dealing with a passion of the imaginary kind as grows between two persons of difference sexes, who have long fixed their thoughts upon one another. (TMS, I.ii.2.1) Smith can feel for the man who is disappointed in love, but not fully for the one whose passion Page 9
9

appears to every body, but the man who feels it, entirely disproportioned to the value of the object [the woman, EK]; and love, though it is pardoned in a certain age because we know it is natural, is always laughed at, because we cannot enter into it.

(TMS, I.ii.2.1) Women, considered by Smith mainly as objects of the passions of men, are thus predominantly conceived in a negative manner. Smith has little positive to say about what he considers as regular relations between women and men. Sexual desires are discussed indirectly and in a rather mystified manner, as hidden under other more agreeable passions.
The sympathy which we feel with them [the passion of love, EK], renders the passion which they accompany less disagreeable, [...] though in the one sex it necessarily leads to the last ruin and infamy; and though in the other, where it is apprehended to be least fatal, it is almost always attended with an incapacity for labour, a neglect of duty, a contempt of fame, and even of common reputation

. (TMS, I.ii.2.5) After this discussion on love and the passions of men for women, Smith concludes that one half of mankind make bad company to the other. Friendship between men is conceived by Smith as the real thing.
A philosopher is company to a philosopher only; the member of a club, to his own little knot of companions.

(TMS, I.ii.2.6) This is again, and more strongly, stated in Part VI Of Virtue in which Smith states that friendships, which arise

from a natural sympathy, from an involuntary feeling that the persons to whom we attach ourselves are the natural and proper objects of esteem and approbation; can exist only among men of virtue

. (TMS, VI.ii.1.18) Women are not only absent as characters in his TMS, they are also missing in Smiths discussions on the content and character of all possible relationships. In Part VI.ii he refers to all those who usually live in the same house with him (TMS, VI.ii.1.2), Page 10
10

mentioning children, parents, but not a wife. When all these relations appear in more detail later in this Part, the relations between women and men and between husband and wife are left out. Smith not only directs himself to a male audience, he also uses the gender distinction in various instances to construct his reasoning, by stating weak women in opposition to strong and wise men (TMS, III.3.32), by characterizing some virtues as soft and of women (e.g. humanity, TMS, IV.2.10) and others such as self-command and as linked to manhood (TMS, VI.concl.5). Masculine and manhood have for Smith unalterably a positive meaning (see e.g. TMS, V.1.7) and TMS, VI.iii.17) whereas characterizations like effeminate and womanish (see e.g. TMS, V.2.7 and TMS, VI.iii.17) are used to downgrade.
8

Smiths use of a masculine perspective has considerable implication for the way he constitutes and described his view on moral behavior. 4. Masculine identity constructed Smith conceptualizes moral behavior from the perspective of men and states the path to moral behavior of men and between men as the (only) way to achieve a mature moral attitude (see also Pujol 1992). In his article on The Impartial Spectator (Raphael 1975) Raphael discusses the development of the impartial spectator, showing an increase of identification with the impartial spectator and with that an increase in the independence of judgment through the various editions of the TMS. Making use of Raphaels discussion of the various editions of the TMS, in the rest of this article I will go through Smiths text and discuss the way Smith constructs a masculine identity in order to attain mature moral behavior. First I discuss Smiths perception of sympathy and human relations, and Smiths description and construction of the impartial spectator as the father, the demi-god within; identification with which enables and legitimatize Man to judge his fellow-men. After having indicated various shifts in Smiths discussion on this topic through the various editions of the TMS, I address in more detail

Smiths discussions on the importance of practicing self-command, his description of the army and perceptions of Nature, Fortune, and natural feelings in relation to this. I finish with Smiths own reflection on his attitude towards lust and women, after which I come to some conclusions on the masculine character of his perception of moral behavior.
8

Here insert quote TMS, VI.iii.17. Page 11


11

Starting from men The TMS starts with the famous remark that "How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it." (TMS, I.i.1.1) Although this text may appear to address and discuss both women and men, as indicated above, Smiths discussion on the sympathy appears to only consider sympathy between men. By dong so, moral issues concerning the (sexual and emotional) relations between women and men are not considered. The focus on men and their moral behavior will subsist through the whole book. Separateness and individuality The TMS is built on the presumption of individuality, especially the division between the inner and the outside world, referring frequently to the man-within' and 'the man-without'. In this perspective in world-within is the place of action, of exploration and the scene where power is established. The world-without provides predominantly judgements and threats. Nature, with her unalterable laws sets limits and invades Man in the form of 'natural feelings' to make him learn the lessons of life. The general accepted view on Smiths perception of human behavior considers Smiths Man as a human being who feels for others (or as stressing the importance of altruism, see Becker 1981, 172). I argue here that Smiths fellow-feeling is limited and strongly based on the assumption of emotional isolations of the individual that makes the process described in the TMS merely an internal one. Smith denies that one can have direct information about someone elses feelings. According to Smith people get information about other peoples feelings and

states of mind by imagining how one would feel if one was in the same circumstances (which is not always possible due to the lack of information about the circumstances the other is in). In his definition and account of sympathy, Smith describes his view on inter-human relations, stating that Page 12
12

Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did, and never can, carry us beyond our own person, and it is by the imagination only that we can form any conception of what are his sensations

. (TMS, I.i.1.2, emphasis added, EK) Although it may look like Smith is just stating a fact, he inserts here an assumption in his argument stating that as long as we ourselves are at ease. This is important because, when this is the case that we see our brother on the rack and still be at ease the relation between us and our brother is already seriously disturbed, if not cut off. Smith starts here with the presumption of disconnection between himself and the sufferer. Subsequently he states the spilt that results from this disconnection between the other (his passions) and the us in the quote as a fact. To acquire ny information about how the brother feels, the agent now has to rely on the imagination, which is used to find out what this brother goes through. Since no actual communication takes place, no check of the correctness of the imagination of the experiences of the other is conducted there is, so to speak, no relation with the other the contact with the outside world of Smiths isolated Man is thus established through the imagination. Smith situates this individual first in relation to his direct environment in which he has personal relations. Subsequently, he is portrayed more in general as alone in the world, as not embedded in family or any social environment, as unsafe and as dependent on friends and unknown people.
Though every man may, according to the proverb, be the whole world to himself, to the rest of mankind he is a most insignificant part of it.

(TMS, II.ii.2.1) He then makes a distinction in his inner world between two kinds of virtues, the most exquisite sensibility of the feelings of others (humanity, sympathy) and the most perfect

command of his own feelings (self-command). It is propriety which has to make sure that these two main remain in balance. (TMS, III.3.34) "
Our sensibility to the feelings of others, so far from being inconsistent with the manhood of self-command, is the very principle upon which that manhood is founded[...] The man of the most perfect virtue, the man whom we naturally love and revere the most, is he who joins, to

Page 13
13

the most perfect command of his own original and selfish feelings, the most exquisite sensibility both to the original and sympathetic feelings of others

."
(TMS, III.3.34-35).

The virtue of humanity or the sensibility of others, is here stated as a virtue that does not need to be acquired (thus not a real virtue), though upon which manhood is built. As we will see later on, Smith starts from propriety and sympathy, and he completes (the last edition of) his treatise by explaining and stressing the importance of self-command. Humanity appears to supply the starting point; it is self-command and manhood that provide the control over ones passions and the required attitude towards pain, death and loss, the quest from which Smith describes in his TMS.
9

The development of the impartial spectator The way to achieve manhood and self-command, according to Smith, is by identification with the impartial spectator, the great judge ands arbiter of our conduct. Uncertainty about judgements to be made and about how to behave will vanish
[I]f we place ourselves completely in his [the impartial spectator, EK] situation, if we really view ourselves with his eyes, and as he views us, and listen with diligent and reverential attention to what he suggests to us, his voice will never deceive us. We shall stand in need of no casuistic rules to direct our conduct

. (TMS, VI.ii.1.22) Before analyzing this impartial spectator, let us first see what this concept contains and how it came about in the subsequent editions of Smiths TMS. In his account of the shifts in the conceptualization of the impartial spectator through the six editions the TMS, Raphael (1975) stresses the increasing independence of the judgements made by the agent from the approval of other men i.e. society.
10

I will follow here two subsequent shifts through the various editions in the descriptions of the impartial spectator. One of these can be characterized as the increasing identification with 'the father', or the demi9

Raphael, the editor of many of Smiths writings, compares Smith to Freud and characterizes him as a psychoanalyst avant la lettre (Raphael 1975).
10

Although Raphael is here referred to as indicating the shifts in focus and perspective applied in Smiths articulation of the impartial spectator, Raphael himself explicitly claims that Smiths fundamental position remained unchanged; that over his life he may have changed and even reversed his emphasis but that these have to be considered as elements in his theory at all stages. (Raphael 1975, 94)

Page 14
14

god within. The other can be identified as the decrease in importance of 'humanity', that eventually ends in the suppression of feelings of the agent as a condition for acquiring tranquillity. Raphael indicates that in the earliest versions of Smith's lectures (c. 1752), that formed the basis for the TMS, no theory of the 'impartial spectator' is yet to be found; Smith speaks here of we, our heart and about any impartial person which suggests that Smith takes here the perspective of mankind that may or may not applauds punishment. (Raphael, 1975, 88). In the first edition of the TMS of 1759 Smith produces, as a criterion to determine the just degree of resentment or punishment, that degree which had the sympathy of the impartial spectator (TMS, II.i.2.1-2). The spectator here still has the form of an impartial disinterested bystander. This changes however, when Smith considers the effect of spectators on the behavior of the agent. Conscience is understood as a social product, as it reflects the way we imagine that an impartial spectator would judge our behavior.
We endeavour to examine our own conduct as we imagine any other fair and impartial spectator would examine it

. (TMS, III.i.2 ??) Raphael quotes Smith stating that we conceive ourselves as acting in presence of a person [...] who is neither our father, nor brother, nor friend either to them or to us, but merely a man in general....(Raphael 1975, 91). This imagination is considered as a looking-glass by Smith, through which we perceive our own actions. (TMS, III.1.5) Raphael indicates a shift in emphasis that appears in the second edition. Here the discussion of the imagination of a person, the impartial spectator, through which we judge our own conduct, develops towards the division of one-self into two persons. In the second edition, Smith writes:

When I endeavour to examine my own conduct [...] it is evident that [...] I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of. The first is the spectator[...].The second is the agent, the agent I properly call myself

. (TMS, III.1.6 ?) Smith then describes the spectator as this inmate of the breast, this abstract man, the representative of mankind, and substitute of the Deity. (see also TMS, III.2.3) After he has Page 15
15

identified for himself an imaginary fatherly figure who provides a means to constitute what Freud probably would call a Super-ego, Smith turns his attention to the image of the impartial spectator and then sets out to strive towards the identification with this figure. Raphael indicates here the increase of the diversion between mankinds approval on the one hand and independent appraisal by the agent, praise-worthiness, and an increasing trust of Smith in his own imagination at the cost of that of society. He points out how Smith shifts from social approval to praise-worthiness, the latter now being independent of the former. Thus the causality also shifts from love of praise to the love of praise worthiness. Smith even goes so far to state that so far is the love of praise worthiness from being derived altogether from that of praise; that the love of praise seems, at least in great measure, to be derived from that of praise worthiness. (quoted in Raphael 1975, 92, TMS III.2.2-3). With this shift Smiths trust in the looking-glass of mankind is replaced by a reliance on the imagination of the agent. This description of the possibility and importance of the identification with the abstract man within, enables Smith to makes judgements on his own accord. The requirements, demands and judgements made by the impartial spectator are those as to be expected from the men most esteemed by the agent and conform the ideal of exact propriety and perfection (TMS,VI.iii.25). The very identification with the imagined man-within-the breast, the DemiGod, seems indeed to provide Smiths man with the power to judge over his fellow men.
The all-wise Author of Nature has, in this manner, taught man to respect the sentiments and judgements of his brethren; to be more or less pleased when they approve of his conduct, and to be more or less hurt when they disapprove of it. He has made man, if I may say so, the immediate judge of mankind; and has in this respect, as in many others, created him after his own image, and appointed him his vicegerent upon earth, to superintend the behaviour of his brethren. (TMS, III.2.31).

Where Raphael compares Smiths perception of this path towards the identification with the man-within with Freuds description of an individuation process and the construction of the Super-ego (Raphael, 1975, 98). I would stress the parallel process that appears to take place in Smith himself, which makes him shift his perspective through the TMS and through the years.
11

Smith articulates the psychological development of a boy, to a young men and of a


11

Schumpeter in his discussion of Smiths work stated that A fact which I cannot help considering relevant, not for his pure economics of course, but all the more for his understanding of human nature that no ..................

Page 16
16

mature man in modern Western society (see also e.g. Campbell, 1971; Lindgren, 1973). Questions need to be asked however, about the content of maturity as conceptualized by Smith. But let us first complete our analysis on the masculine features of the conceptualization of moral behavior in the TMS. Self command Brown (1994) stresses Smiths acknowledgement of the agents feelings, against the background of his use of the Stoic tradition that states the moral gaze of the devine Being together with self-command, leaving no space whatsoever for individual considerations. Thus Smiths agent is in some respects [...] a more fractured and struggling moral being who is however unable to fully achieve moral integrity because of his impossibility to identify completely with the impartial spectator. (Brown, 1994, pp.75) Although the identification with the impartial spectator does provide a mechanism to overawe the agents feelings, tranquility is constantly threatened and self-command has to be exercised every moment of the day (TMS, III.3.21-8) In the last edition of the TMS, Smith makes a shift in the appraisal of the role of humanity relative to self-command (Raphael 1975, 93). Where at first humanity and selfcommand together constituted perfect human nature, self-command itself now becomes
reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant within the breast, the man within [...] It is from him only that we learn the real littleness of ourselves

(TMS, III.3.4).

Even in situations in which passions and some self-interest seem almost unavoidable, as in the

case of the man who has lost his leg by a canon shot (TMS, III.3.26), Smith advocates immediate identification with the impartial spectator, which will enable this miserable man, just after he lost his leg, to speak and act with his usual coolness and tranquility, as he exerts a much higher degree of self-command (TMS, III.3.26). This will bring him, according to Smith a much higher degree of self-approbation. Thus [t]he man of real constancy and firmness, the wise and just man who has been thoroughly bred in the great school of self-command [...] has never dared to forget for one moment the judgement which the impartial spectator would pass upon his sentiments and conduct. He has never dared to suffer the man within the breast to be absent one moment from his attention.[...]He does not merely affect the Page 17
17

sentiments of the impartial spectator. He really adopts them. He almost identifies himself with, he almost becomes himself that impartial spectator, and scarce even feels but as that great arbiter of his conduct directs him to feel."
(TMS, III.3.25)

The impartial spectator gets pictures as a forceful father, identification with whom provides the agent with power, power to suppress his own feelings and uncertainties. Through the book self-command gets more and more attention in Part VI Smith speaks in various instances from the perspective of the impartial spectator (see e.g. TMS, VI.iii.29 and VI.concl.5) until in the conclusions to the sixth part Smith states propriety as the considerations of the sentiments of the impartial spectator and self-command as basic to the attainment of the virtues of prudence, justice and beneficence. As will be shown in the following three sections Smith constructs self-command in relation to images of the army, of Nature and Fortune, and of his perception of natural feelings. It will also be seen that throughout the book, the features which Smith associated with, and linked to, women, i.e. humanity, Nature and natural feelings come increasingly under pressure. Whereas the army provides the ideals of manhood, Nature and Fortune (both referred to as female) provide the uncertainties, the disturbances and the natural feelings that have to be overcome in order to attain the longed-for tranquility. The army as role model When he was young, Adam Smith had the ambition to go into the army. He was not admitted however, because of his weak health (Ross, 1995). The army, or rather the army life as Smith

imagined it, functions as a role model in the TMS, especially to explain the way men acquire self-command (TMS, VI.iii). Scenes and characters, like every tolerably good soldier (TMS, III.3.5) and the man who faces death with intrepidity and maintains his tranquility and presence of mind amidst the most dreadful dangers (TMS, VI.iii.17) reoccur in metaphors and examples by which he explains the moral attitude of wise and strong men. Wars and fights in Smiths view contained important reads to manhood, which however, were no guarantee to attaining the desired degree of self-command.
Though war and faction are certainly the best schools for forming every man to this hardiness and firmness of temper, though they are the best remedies for curing him of the opposite weakness, yet, if the day of trial should happen to come before

Page 18
18

he has completely learned his lesson, before the remedy has had time to produce its proper effect, the consequences might not be agreeable. (TMS, VI.iii.20)

Though for Smith the army was a good school to train oneself in self-command, it was no guarantee to reach the goal, as this required identification with the impartial spectator. Those who did not go to war could still, however with more effort as the circumstances were easier and less dangerous, attain the required moral attitude. This moral behavior was to be attained in relation, struggle and confrontation with Nature or with Fortune.
Nature and Fortune as female

Smith addresses and describes (as usual under his contemporaries) both Nature and Fortune as female. The Part Of Merit and Demerit (Part II) contains a discussion stating that man is responsible for his actions only and not for their designs and intentions. It is Nature who with good reasons implanted the seeds of this irregularity (the not entirely justifiable appreciation for specific action instead of for its design) in the human breast. (TMS, II.iii.3.2) Similarly, Part III On Duty, contains a description of Nature as inflicting sufferings by her unalterable laws, however, necessary in order to avoid accidents. It is Nature which meant that he should anxiously avoid all such accidents (TMS, III.3.28), and makes that
[h]e suffers, therefore, and though, in the agony of the paroxysm, he maintains, not only the manhood of his countenance, but the sedateness and sobriety of his judgement, it requires his utmost and most fatiguing exertions, to do so. (TMS, III.3.28)

However, his fight supplies man with the enjoyment of his own self-applause and self-approbation. In the chapter Of Self-command (Part VI,iii), Smith describes Fortune as having
great influence over the moral sentiments of mankind, and, according as she is either favourable or adverse, can render the same character the object, either of general love and admiration, or of universal hatred and contempt. This great

Page 19
19

disorder in our moral sentiments is by no means, however, without its utility (TMS, VI.iii.30)

Both Nature and Fortune are conceptualized as useful opponents to Man, who tries to attain his moral identity. By the challenges they supply, Man is pressed to exercise the identification with the father within and to show (to himself) that he has conquered his personal feelings. Personal feelings as disturbances of the constituted unity As Brown indicates, the TMS places Nature in opposition to reason and this rejects the Stoic philosophy in Chapter VII. (Brown, 1994, pp.74) Smith conceives that tranquility, which is attained, it is only temporarily so, threatened as it is by continuous flows of feelings and, in extreme cases, of paroxysms. Once one has identified with the impartial spectator, feelings are considered as disturbances of the tranquility attained, instead as a source of information about one-self and ones needs, wishes and desires.
His natural, his untaught and undisciplined feelings, are continually calling it off to the other. He does not, in this case, perfectly identify himself with the ideal man within the breast, he does not become himself the impartial spectator of his own conduct. (TMS, III.3.28)

Instead Smith considers that the attainment of self-command makes good the distress and pain, as
[I]n proportion to the degree of the self-command which is necessary in order to conquer our natural sensibility, the pleasure and pride of the conquest are so much the greater; and this pleasure and pride are so great that no man can be altogether unhappy who completely enjoys them. (TMS, III.3.27)

Natural sensibility is here conquered by self-command instead of balanced with it. It appears that Smith constructed an understanding of identity in which he equated manhood, selfcommand and the establishment of wisdom in opposition to Nature, to his own feelings, and paroxysms. Women seem not to be only absent in the process of attaining moral behavior, Smith is also silent on the issue of whether they are capable of moral behavior, as he addresses Page 20
20

womens potential to achieve mature moral behavior or tranquility only in the negative sense. In the TMS women come the most close to moral behavior in the phrase in which Smith remarks that
[I]n the end, Time, the great and universal comforter, gradually composes the weak man to the same degree of tranquility which a regard to his own dignity and manhood teaches the wise man to assume in the beginning. The case of the man with the wooden leg is an obvious example of this. In the irreparable misfortune occasioned by the death of children, or of friends and relations, even a wise man may for some time indulge himself in some degree of moderated sorrow. An

affectionate, but weak woman, is often, upon such occasions, almost perfectly distracted. Time, however, in a longer or shorter period, never fails to compose the weakest woman to the same degree of tranquility as the strongest man. (TMS, III.3.32)

(Mind here that the man who lost his leg by a canon shot from TMS, III.3.26 has been taken care of and now seems to be in a somewhat better condition.) It is mens behavior that is articulated and elaborated here, more specifically mens behavior vis vis other men, in opposition to women and what is perceived as female. The question as to why women are absent to such an extent, and how it is possible that the author himself does not seem to acknowledge this distortion of his account of human behavior, is a complex one. Instead of drawing conclusions with the risk of running into speculations about the origins and this lack and one-sidedness of the TMS, let us rather see what Smith himself has to say about this. Luxury and lust in relation to moral behavior Where Smith throughout the TMS looks down on women and almost denies the (positive) role of gender relations and sexuality, in his last chapter on philosophical systems he though indirectly reflects upon this topic. In this chapter, Part VII On Moral Philosophy, Smith discusses various philosophical systems, including Mandevilles work. Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733) was a Dutch physician, who wrote the famous poem The Fable of the Bees (1705) in which he elaborated the idea that it are the private vices that together make public virtues. Smith is rather strong in his negative comment on Mandevilles poem, using terms like pernicious, ingenious sophistry and fallacy. Smith fulminates against what he considers as Mandevilles attempt to remove the distinction between vice and virtue and stresses the love of virtue as the noblest and the best passion in human nature (TMS, VII.ii.4.8) He rejects the way Mandevilles Page 21
21

perceives luxury as a vice and opposes [t]he indulgence of the inclination to sex, in the most lawful union, he [Mandeville, EK] considers as the same sensuality with the most hurtful gratification of that passion and derides that temperance and that chastity which can be practiced at so cheap a rate. (TMS, VII.ii.4.11) Smith notices in Mandevilles reasoning the ambiguity of language and he explains how he thinks these issues (luxery and lust) should be addressed, namely in terms of repression and denial.
"There are some of our passions which have no other names except those which

mark the disagreeable and offensive degree. The spectator is more apt to take notice of them in this degree than in any other. When they shock his own sentiments, when they give him some sort of antipathy and uneasiness, he is necessarily obliged to attend to them, and is from thence naturally led to give them a name. When they fall in with the natural state of his mind, he is very apt to overlook them altogether, and either gives them no name at all, or, if he gives them any, it is one which marks rather the subjection and restraint of the passion, than the degree which it still is allowed to subsist in, after it is so subjected and restrained. Thus the common names (footnote: Luxury and lust) of the love of pleasure, and of the love of sex, denote a vicious and offensive degree of those passions. The words temperance and chastity, on the other hand, seem to mark rather the restraint and subjection which they are kept under, than the degree which they are still allowed to subsist in." (TMS VII.ii.4.11, emphasis added, EK)

Showing what one could call an almost postmodernist awareness of the power of language, Smith deconstructs here his own use of (gendered) language. Referring to the love of pleasure and of the love of sex without speaking about them explicitly, he shows himself to be aware that he only uses terms that express their repression; temperance and chastity. This provides an explanation for the absence of women in Smiths texts; why they are hardly mentioned unless in relation to chastity and in negative terms; like the love of pleasure and the love of sex, they are only mentioned solely in the restraint and subjection they are under. 5. Conclusions Through its various editions, the Theory of Moral Sentiments can be conceived as an individuation process, one that proceeds the Wealth of Nations. The construction of a Page 22
22

masculine concept of identity by Smith can be indicated through the Theory of Moral Sentiments and through the six editions the TMS went through. Smith defines sympathy as the basis for moral behavior, which needs to be completed by the virtue of self-command. Sympathy provides the basis for judgment of others and for the identification with the impartial spectator. Throughout his book however, Smith shifts from sympathy to the construction of the impartial spectator, and then to the attainment of selfcommand. In the end, it is no longer the balance between humanity and self-command which constitutes the perfect human but the focus has shifted to the identification with the impartial spectator and the attainment of self-command. Smith not only excludes women from the discussions; the amiable virtues, which he links to women, are conceived as merely virtues, which are taken for granted and become shifted to the background. It are the awful and

splendid virtues, such as self-government and control, that are strived for. This makes the TMS a treatise on the development of masculine moral behavior. Although I do conclude against characterizing Smith as a feminist to put it mildly, it is not this judgement that is at stake here. It is both the acknowledgement of the content and definition of the masculine conceptualization of moral behavior that Adam Smith provides in his TMS, that is here outlined. The TMS can be conceived as an undertaking which aimed at the construction of a moral identity that would give the author (and all mankind with him) the possibility to judge well and with that, a legitimization for doing so. This perception of behavior and attitude is suggested as basic to the perception of (moral) behavior for generations of economists to come. In Smiths perception a morally full grown man achieves a supreme viewpoint and becomes praise-worthy by identification with the impartial spectator: he is indifferent towards his own needs and desires, he has learned how to control his feelings and to attain tranquility whatever the circumstances. The occurrence of suffering provides opportunities to strengthen control and self-command. Anger and fear coming from within invoke Smith to even stronger repress his personal feelings. Tranquility as Smith perceives it, is brought about by self-command and manhood, based on repression of passions rather than by knowledge and appreciation of ones own feelings, the worth of women and the importance of mutual relationships; a perception of identity that is more like what we now would understand as masculine than as mature.
References: Becker, G.S. 1981. A Treatise on the Family, Cambridge, Harvard University Press

Page 23
23

Brown, V. 1994. Adam Smiths discourse. Canonicity, commerce and conscience, London, Routledge Culler, J. (1983) On deconstruction : theory and criticism after structuralism, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul Campbell, T.D. 1971. Adam Smiths Science of Morals, London, Allen and Unwin Folbre, N. 1990. The Improper Arts: Sex in Classical Political Economy, unpublished paper Grappard, U. 1993. How to see the invisible hand or from the benevolence of the butchers wife, paper presented at the Out of the Margin Conference 1993, Amsterdam Lindgren, R. 1973. The social philosophy of Adam Smith, The Hague: Martinus Nijhof Mandeville, B. 1705. The Fable of the Bees, Irwin Primer McCloskey, D.N. 1996. Love and money, Feminist Economics, vol. 2,2, p.137-141 Pujol, M. 1992. Feminism and Anti-Feminism in Early Economic Thought, Aldershot: Edward Elgar Raphael, D.D. 1975. The Impartial Spectator, in A.S. Skinner & T. Wilson (eds), Essays on Adam Smith, Oxford, Clarendon Press

--- & MacFie, A.L. 1984. Introduction, in: Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, Indianapolis, Liberty Funds Randall, J. 1987. Virtue and Commerce: Women in the Making of Adam Smiths Political Economy, in E. Kennedy & S. Mendus (eds), Women in Western Political Philosophy, Kant to Nietzsche, Brighton, Wheatheaf Books Ross, I. 1995. The Life of Adam Smith, Oxford, Clarendon Press Schumpeter, J.A. 1954. History of Economic Analysis, London, Routledge Smith, A. 1759. Theory of Moral Sentiments, D.D. Raphael & A.L. MacFie (eds), Indianapolis, Liberty Fund --- 1776. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, R.H. Campbell & A.S. Skinner (eds), Indianapolis, Liberty Fund Staveren, I. van, (2001) Caring Economy, London: Routledge

Page 24
24