Adam Smith on the Sympathy one feels for those Vanquished in a battle rather than for the Victors (1762)

Adam Smith

Found in Theory of Moral Sentiments and Essays on Philosophical Subjects (1869)

This passage comes from Lecture 16 of Adam Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric which he gave at the University of Glasgow in 1762:

.. it is with the misfortunes of others that we most commonly as well as most deeply sympathise.—A Historian who related a battle and the effects attending, if he was no way interested would naturally dwell more on the misery and lamentations of the vanquished than on the triumph and exultations of the Victors.

This passage builds upon the ideas contained in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) where Smith shows that his interest goes far beyond just matters of justice or economic efficiency but extends equally to the issue of having sympathy towards the suffering of others.