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By James R. Otteson, John Meadowcroft


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Indd 16 10/13/2010 1:45:22 PM Smith’s Philosophical Program 17 speakers are the ones making the changes, shouldn’t they be aware of them? The answer is that they may be locally, but not globally, aware—another perhaps paradoxical claim, but one that becomes centrally important to the rest of Smith’s work. Smith’s idea is that speakers for the most part have only local intentions: they have this desire, which they wish to communicate now, to this audience. Because human experience is constantly changing, people’s purposes, circumstances, and interlocutors also change.

Taking a small but telling example, Smith writes, A man is mortified when, after having endeavoured to divert the company, he looks round and sees that nobody laughs at his jests but himself. On the contrary, the mirth of the company is highly agreeable to him, and he regards this correspondence of their sentiments with his own as the greatest applause. indd 38 10/13/2010 1:47:50 PM Smith’s Genealogy of Morality 39 embarrassed, chagrined, awkward, isolated. The exact degree of one’s feeling of isolation depends on the particulars of the situation, but it is never pleasant.

In HA, Smith considers the possibility that what drives scientists is an expectation of gain rather than a desire for knowledge. indd 30 10/13/2010 1:45:23 PM Smith’s Philosophical Program 31 [Scientists’] imagination, which accompanies with ease and delight the regular progress of nature, is stopped and embarrassed by those seeming incoherences; they excite their wonder, and seem to require some chain of intermediate events, which, by connecting them with something that has gone before, may thus render the whole course of the universe consistent and of a piece.

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