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Adam SmithSystematic Philosopher and Public Thinker$
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Eric Schliesser

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190690120

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190690120.001.0001

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A Cheerful Philosophical Life

A Cheerful Philosophical Life

Chapter:
(p.349) 15 A Cheerful Philosophical Life
Source:
Adam Smith
Author(s):

Eric Schliesser

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190690120.003.0015

This chapter uses Adam Smith’s obituary of David Hume, “Letter to Strahan,” published jointly with Hume’s brief autobiography, to explore the rewards and purpose of doing philosophy in a commercial society. Smith thinks that philosophers can enjoy the rewards of friendship in this life and immortality after death if they are benefactors to humanity. For Smith, friendship among equals is the most valuable goal. The argument proceeds by way of an analysis of how Hume and Smith understand magnanimity and vanity in light of the evidence surrounding Smith’s description of Hume’s deathbed scene reading of Lucian’s Dialogues of the Dead.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, David Hume, friendship, magnanimity, philosophy, immortality, vanity

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