In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 481 Another advantage of relying more heavily on historical sources is that one can sometimes avoid outright mistakes. A. A. Luce and T. E. Jessop have made it clear how important Malebranche and Bayle are to Berkeley. It is an interpretive thesis one can test for oneself. One illustrative example must suffice: the Philosophical Commentaries and the New Theory of Vision can be studied in the light of Malebranche's Recherche and Bayle's article on Zeno. One can then discover that Berkeley's minima sensibilia were designed concretely to avoid the finite/infinite divisibility dialectic. A minimum visible is, as we might say, operationally defined. Although extended, it literally makes no sense to talk of subdividing it. Stack's mistaken attempt to subdivide a minimum visible is explicitly derived from D. M. Armstrong's Berkeley's Theory of Vision (Melbourne: 1960). In both Armstrong and Stack the mistake ultimately comes from the same source: a simple failure to examine Malebranche and Bayle; a failure to take into account the very arguments Berkeley was trying to deal with as early as the Philosophical Commentaries. This radical indifference to historical material is particularly perplexing in the case of Berkeley. Indeed, the revival of philosophical interest in Berkeley stems in large measure from the work of Luce and Jessop in presenting us with a superb, historically informed, edition of the texts. While it is useful to have Stack's analyses of a number of Berkeley's most complex and intricately interconnected arguments, it would have been still more useful had he taken Berkeley's contemporaries as seriously as he now takes our contemporary commentators. HARRY M. BRACKEN McGill University Adam Smith's Science of Morals. By T. D. Campbell (London: Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1971. Pp. 244. s In a day when the foundations of commercial life are again a subject of major social concern, a careful study of the philosophical basis of one of the cornerstones of modern political economy is severely welcome. Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) provides an opportunity for just such a study because it contains the basis for clarifying much that remains ambiguous in the Wealth of Nations (1776). Mr. Campbell goes beyond this and claims, rightly in my judgment, that the earlier work is possessed of a value of its own, quite independently of its sequel. His estimate of the character of that value, however, differs sharply from those of previous students of Smith. Campbell proposes that the Moral Sentiments is best understood when it is interpreted as a 'scientific' rather than a 'philosophical' theory of morals. In this volume he claims that the book was, both in intent and execution, an attempt to formulate an analytic model from which the values which in fact govern the moral judgments of men can be deduced. His account of how that model was formulated begins with the observation that moral approval is caused by the perception, on the part of a spectator, of the sympathy or agreement of his sentiments (attitudes or feelings) with those of the agent with regard to the act in question. That agreement is achieved by an act of imagination on the part of the spectator--also called sympathy--by which he strives to place himself, as best he can, in the situation of the agent. Constrained by the inherent limitations of imagination--which Campbell calls laws of sympathy-spectators inevitably fall short of complete identification with the situations of agents. The degree to which men are ordinarily successful in this pursuit defines the standpoint of the impartial spectator. The attitudes which men normally support when 482 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY adopting this standpoint constitute the moral values of the group. These values--the general rules of morality or the rules of established social practice--are themselves subject to evaluation and even rejection when scrutinized from the standpoint which Campbell calls the ideal impartial spectator, i.e., the perspective to which moral argument leads and from which sympathy among all members of the group can be attained. When he turns to Smith's account of the modes of conduct which are to be regarded as virtuous Campbell finds that it...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 481-482
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.