The Theory of Moral Sentiments - Principles of emotional exchange

Adam Smith's first and favorite book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759 [1790]), is first and foremost about the economy of feelings. In stark contrast to Rawls, Smith believes that justice begins with the universal, inevitable, and yet understudied principles of emotional exchange.

In Smith's world there is no use in donning a veil of ignorance; in fact, the veil is wasteful, even dangerous, in Smith's view. Sympathy, or what we now call empathy or fellow feeling, is the shifting yet fundamental bedrock of human experience.

In this first online assignment I would like to you to express your observations about "sympathy"  (or lack of it) in the lockdown society (coronavirus pandemic and

shut down of society), by writing haiku poetry for the just society.  

You might focus on the President, the State Department, local or neighborhood effects, global affairs, or whatever moves you to poetry and feeling.

Economical writing is a variety of style, and haiku economics is economical writing par excellence. Welcome to your haiku journey, where stylistically

speaking we will focus on precision (precise expression), simplicity of expression, and vivid yet efficient story telling in merely three lines of 17 sounds

arranged in the order 5-7-and-5 again, your haiku budget constraint. 

Read in addition to our first Smith assignment Ziliak's "Haiku Economics: Money, Metaphor, and the Invisible Hand" (Poetry 2011); Ziliak, "Haiku Economics: Little Teaching Aids for Big Economic Pluralists" (IJPEE 2011), including the Appendix published at the end of the 2009 article; and Ziliak et al. "The Spontaneous Order of Words: Economics Experiments in Haiku and Renga" (IJPEE 2014).

Find the papers here:


and here:


Write: 500 words explaining the haiku spirit, and at least 250 more words describing "sympathy" in the first 43 pages of Smith's TMS.  Then write no less than five (5) haiku about sympathy, economics, and the lockdown society (coronavirus pandemic). If you are sick and tired of coronavirus talk, your haiku economic subject matter can focus on economic theory, data, history, pop culture, or whatever moves you to poetry and economic thought. 

NOTE: Use the Ziliak (2009 IJPEE) Appendix to test the validity of your haiku. Finally, calculate the image-to-sound ratio for each haiku and place the result at the end of each haiku. Strive to achieve an image to sound ratio of at least 0.40. 

For example, 

Irish garbage man 
opens a blue plastic bag 
with a regal look. 

(image to sound ratio: 9/17 or 0.53) 

Invisible hand: 
mother of inflated hope, 
mistress of despair! 

(image to sound ratio: 7/17 or 0.41) 


Test the validity of your haiku using the Appendix to Ziliak's "Haiku Economics: Little Teaching Aids" (2009)


The Theory of Moral Sentiments - Principles of emotional exchange

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