By Eugene Heath, Vincenzo Merolle
Expanding numbers of students have famous Ferguson's contribution to Enlightenment considering, yet no collections of scholarly essays were dedicated to him. during this, the second one of 2 similar monographs, a collection of accrued essays examine Ferguson's philosophical, political and sociological writings and the discourse which they triggered among Ferguson and different vital figures corresponding to David Hume and Adam Smith. a lot secondary literature on Ferguson is mentioned, which highlights how Ferguson might be top understood as a social theorist who hired parts of many lines of proposal to reconcile tensions of modernity. Crucially, Ferguson's options on those far-reaching themes are tough to categorise so have frequently been misrepresented in different places. This publication addresses those misconceptions. detailed one of the top figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Ferguson observed eighteenth-century revolutions, the yankee and the French. On those and on many different very important modern matters, the perspectives he expressed contributed to shaping public opinion.
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Additional info for Adam Ferguson: Philosophy, Politics and Society (The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century)
17 Accordingly, even the destructiveness of war could produce benefits. 25 Ferguson’s Ambivalent Civilization Adam Ferguson was an anomalous Enlightenment thinker. 29 Nevertheless, this development was pregnant with both promise and peril for civilized states and societies. If civilization gave rise to largely peaceful civil societies, civilization also created the military strength that may become a menace to civil society and to peaceful coexistence between sovereign states. 31 Just as civilized and uncivilized societies could be distinguished, so too could civilized from uncivilized selves.
Despite his obvious enthusiasm for civilization, he remained concerned that its further progress would render its obvious benefits, such as politeness, polished manners and discipline, entirely fictional. Civilization, he felt, may prove to be an all too shaky facade of politeness masking the corruption of virtue by luxury or indolence. I will explore this distinctive feature of Ferguson’s thought by examining the two fictions of Fontenoy. Those fictions are first, that which relates to the legend of battlefield civility and second, that which centres on Ferguson’s supposed presence at the battle.
Indeed, I will argue that he was concerned that without the practice of virtue, even when invoked in ancient fable and myth, civilization may itself be shown to be fictional. Although Ferguson was an early critic of the comfortable self-assurance of progress and ‘civilization’ inherent in Scottish Enlightenment political economy, he was only ever an ambivalent critic. The process of civilization was not to be opposed so much as measured and monitored so that its ill effects could be minimized and its truly beneficial effects maximized.