Recap of the foregoing chaptersby Adam Smith
18 We only thoroughly sympathize with Person A’s gratitude to Person B if we totally go along with the motives of Person B. We must go along with Person B’s feelings, before we can entirely sympathize with Person A’s gratitude.
19 When we sympathize with Person B’s feelings, and if it matches Person A’s gratitude, then our love for Person B enhances our fellow-feeling with Person A’s gratitude. Person B’s actions seem then to call aloud for a proportional recompense. We then entirely enter into Person A’s gratitude which prompts to bestow it.
Person B seems then to be the proper object of reward, when we thus entirely sympathize with, and approve of, the gratitude which prompts to reward him. When we approve of, and go along with the gratitude which the action creates, we must necessarily= approve of the action, and regard the person towards whom it is directed, as its proper and suitable object.
20 In the same way, we cannot sympathize with a sufferer’s resentment against his offender if we understand his offender’s motives. Before we can adopt the sufferer’s resentment, we must=
- disapprove of his offender’s motives, and
- renounce all sympathy with the offender’s feelings
If the offender’s feelings were proper, then his actions, no matter how fatal, do not deserve any punishment nor are the cause of resentment.
21 But if the offender’s action is based on an improper feeling, we entirely sympathize with the sufferer’s resentment. Such actions then call aloud for a proportional punishment.
The offender then becomes the proper object of punishment after we sympathize with his sufferer’s resentment.