From one form of sympathy to another: Sophie de Grouchy’s translation of and commentary on Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments

Abstract : This paper focuses on Sophie de Grouchy’s French translation of the Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759-1790), published in 1798 and praised, from the very moment of its publication. It aims at emphasizing Grouchy’s reading of Smith’s moral philosophy on some particular points as it might have influence her translation of the TMS. Indeed, one important aspect of Grouchy’s Lettres, which concerns their reevaluation of Smithian sympathy, has been usually ignored by commentators. Curiously, whereas most contributions deals with the Marchioness’ translation, there is scarce any comment on her reading of Smith’s analysis (on the notable exception of Forget 2001). Yet, this could help to explain the distances that she sometimes took with Smith original vocabulary in her translation. In order to fulfill our aim, we first discuss the main features of this translation in the light of what has been pointed out by scholars. Most commentators agree that, despite its particular respect for the original text, Grouchy’s translation is not completely literal (Biziou, Gautier and Pradeau 1999). However, we only partially share some existing interpretations of these modifications such as the one of Bernier (2010) or Britton (2009). Our interpretation relies on the critics that Grouchy addresses to Smith’s moral philosophy in her Lettres. This leads us, in a second time, to emphasizes major philosophical differences between both authors; differences that Grouchy unfortunately underestimate. The reason that we put to the fore is the following: Grouchy analyzes Smith’s thinking in the light of a philosophical framework inconsistent with his moral philosophy as it precisely corresponds to the kind of system that he criticizes. To conclude, we open the path to alternative interpretations of some Grouchy’s choices of translation.
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  • HAL Id : hal-01435828, version 1

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Laurie Bréban, Jean Dellemotte. From one form of sympathy to another: Sophie de Grouchy’s translation of and commentary on Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. 2016. ⟨hal-01435828⟩

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