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The phrases in their context!


To which we may add, that where the riches or power are very great, and render the person considerable and important in the world, the esteem attending them, may, in part, be ascribed to another source, distinct from these three, viz.
their interesting the mind by a prospect of the multitude, and importance of their consequences: Though, in order to account for the operation of this principle, we must also have recourse to sympathy; as we have observed in the preceding section.
It may not be amiss, on this occasion, to remark the flexibility of our sentiments, and the several changes they so readily receive from the objects, with which they are conjoined.
All the sentiments of approbation, which attend any particular species of objects, have a great resemblance to each other, though derived from different sources; and, on the other hand, those sentiments, when directed to different objects, are different to the feeling, though derived from the same source.
Thus the beauty of all visible objects causes a pleasure pretty much the same, though it be sometimes derived from the mere species and appearance of the objects; sometimes from sympathy, and an idea of their utility.
In like manner, whenever we survey the actions and characters of men, without any particular interest in them, the pleasure, or pain, which arises from the survey (with some minute differences) is, in the main, of the same kind, though perhaps there be a great diversity in the causes, from which it is derived.
On the other hand, a convenient house, and a virtuous character, cause not the same feeling of approbation; even though the source of our approbation be the same, and flow from sympathy and an idea of their utility.
There is something very inexplicable in this variation of our feelings; but it is what we have experience of with regard to all our passions and sentiments.
Thus upon the whole I am hopeful, that nothing is wanting to an accurate proof of this system of ethics.
We are certain, that sympathy is a very powerful principle in human nature.
We are also certain, that it has a great influence on our sense of beauty, when we regard external objects, as well as when we judge of morals.
We find, that it has force sufficient to give us the strongest sentiments of approbation, when it operates alone, without the concurrence of any other principle; as in the cases of justice, allegiance, chastity, and good-manners.
We may observe, that all the circumstances requisite for its operation are found in most of the virtues; which have, for the most part, a tendency to the good of society, or to that of the person possessed of them.
If we compare all these circumstances, we shall not doubt, that sympathy is the chief source of moral distinctions; especially when we reflect, that no objection can be raised against this hypothesis in one case, which will not extend to all cases.
Justice is certainly approved of for no other reason, than because it has a tendency to the public good: And the public good is indifferent to us, except so far as sympathy interests us in it.
We may presume the like with regard to all the other virtues, which have a like tendency to the public good.
They must derive all their merit from our sympathy with those, who reap any advantage from them: As the virtues, which have a tendency to the good of the person possessed of them, derive their merit from our sympathy with him.
Most people will readily allow, that the useful qualities of the mind are virtuous, because of their utility.
This way of thinking is so natural, and occurs on so many occasions, that few will make any scruple of admitting it.
Now this being once admitted, the force of sympathy must necessarily be acknowledged.