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Every Single Piece Has A Principle of Motion Of Its Own

Amidst the turbulence and disorder of faction, a certain spirit of system is apt to mix itself with that public spirit which is founded upon the love of humanity, upon a real fellow-feeling with the inconveniencies and distresses to which some of our fellow-citizens may be exposed. This spirit of system commonly takes the direction of that more gentle public spirit, always animates it, and often inflames it, even to the madness of fanaticism. . . . The man of system . . . [1] is apt to be very wise in his own conceit, and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it: he seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board; he does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.

— Adam Smith (1759) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part Sixth, Section II, Chapter 2, ¶¶ 15-17
Of the order in which Societies are by nature recommended to our Beneficence

  1. [1]Smith: on the contrary, i.e., as contrasted with the man whose public spirit is prompted altogether by humanity and benevolence, who (therefore) will respect the established powers and privileges even of individuals, and still more those of the great orders and societies into which the state is divided. –C.J.

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