September, 2020

His Memory has Misled Him?

Two Supposed Errors in Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments
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D.D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie, the editors of the Glasgow Edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, document numerous errors made by Adam Smith. We examine two alleged errors, both regarding stories found in Cicero, to evaluate the extent to which they might be esoteric: one involving Parmenides and Plato, the other involving Ulysses. We argue there is good reason to suspect that the first error is deliberate and contains hidden meaning, but that, in the second case, Raphael and Macfie are mistaken in their claim that Smith erred. Finally, given Smith's discussion of dissimulation, we comment on his probable attitude toward defensive esotericism.