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Sophie de Grouchy, Adam Smith, and the Politics of Sympathy

  • Eric Schliesser
Chapter

Abstract

This paper explains Sophie de Grouchy’s philosophical debts to Adam Smith. I have three main reasons for this: first, it should explain why eighteenth-century philosophical feminists (De Grouchy, James Millar, and Mary Wollstonecraft) found Smith, who has—to put it mildly—not been a focus of much recent feminist admiration, a congenial starting point for their own thinking; second, it illuminates De Grouchy’s considerable philosophical originality, especially her important, overlooked contributions to political theory; third, it is designed to remove some unfortunate misconceptions that have found their way into Karin Brown’s ‘Introduction’ to the recent and much-to-be-welcomed translation of Sophie de Grouchy’s Lettres Sur La Sympathie (Letters on Sympathy). While Brown claims that there are major ‘differences’ in their programs of ‘social reform’, I argue there are important commonalities between Smith and De Grouchy. In particular, I highlight how they share a common understanding of how human sensibilities are shaped by social institutions and I show that De Grouchy’s path-breaking analysis of negative and positive liberty is grounded in her extension of Smith’s political theory and moral psychology.

Keywords

Sophie De Grouchy Adam Smith Liberty Sympathy Political theory 

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Schliesser
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Political ScienceUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Visiting Scholar, Smith Institute for Political Economy and PhilosophyChapman UniversityOrangeUSA

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