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Master piece of pure eloquence
on 18 April 2016
What an excellent example of eloquent writing this book is, besides its suppositions and content this book is just a complete and utter pleasure to read for anyone who truly appreciates a good wordsmith and Smith really is one.
From the opening chapters which describe his theory that via the medium of imagination individuals do comprehend others being, enjoy mutual sympathies etc. through all the chapters introducing ideas or thought experiments much appreciated by later liberals and philosophers such as the impartial observer, ideas about character, deep praise of stoicism, detachment and fortune to its finish I enjoyed all of this and would highly recommend it.
I have not read the wealth of nations to know how it compliments the more famous work but regret that this is not more well known, my favourite chapters include those upon beauty and utility, while he does not mention utilitarian philosophers directly he does heap praise upon the philosophy and considers things beautiful which have the quality of utility. There are some great reflections in this part of the book about wealth and fortune and why those without envy those with means but also the ill fated destiny of many who suddenly, or even through hard graft and time, discover to themselves some means, with increased means the demands for further increased means being a big factor. Some of the musings about the accumulation of possessions, using examples of "tweezer boxes" or novelty trinkets of the time which sound something like swiss army knives,are pretty perennial (along with many others besides) and like later day criticisms of consumerism, hoarding types and Erich Fromm's "To Have or To Be?" idea, although only a footnote to other ideas and therefore a lot shorter.
Overall this book impressed upon me someone with a great love of humanity, of a certain sort of literary humanism, without magnifying what it is to be human and experience the human condition to the point were it eclipses all else but a happy, humble, appreciative and reflective mode of being. Smith thought carefully, reflected a lot and enjoyed writing about it in a manner which allows the reader to enter into his experience readily and relate to it easily. Of this I am certain that reading this really enriched my life, understanding and thinking. Recommended.