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 1st of 2 similar monographs, essays diversity throughout all of Ferguson's works to enquire his engagement with modern occasions and his contributions to our figuring out of background and human motion. exact one of the best figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Ferguson observed eighteenth-century revolutions, the yank and the French. On those and on many different vital modern topics, the perspectives he expressed contributed to shaping public opinion. yet his paintings right here additionally extends again to Roman instances, approximately which he drew comparisons with the society of his day. As proven in those essays, he not just provided his techniques on and defined background, he investigated the character of historical past itself.
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Extra resources for Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature (The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century)
17 Robertson supervised the rigorous collection of the matriculation fees used to fund the library, recruited the efficient Duke Gordon as underlibrarian and promoted the work of professor of Hebrew James Robertson as honorary librarian, assisted by a committee of faculty curators. 18 Instituted in 1764, the system used to regulate circulation involved a receipt book for the students – refundable upon the book’s return – to cover the replacement cost of the book. Each professor had his own pages to list the date, mark the volumes being borrowed and, beginning in 1773, sign his name.
27 This fluent account of the unplanned and unknowable nature of large-scale historical development addressed a problem that had long preoccupied those major historians who had worked in Scotland – with all of whom Ferguson was himself Ferguson and Scottish History 31 thoroughly familiar. 29 Natural History as National History The Essay, like the writings of several of Ferguson’s leading Scottish contemporaries, evidently belonged to a particularly complicated tradition for analysing and making sense of the past that historians in Scotland had been elaborating over several centuries.
37 Vital simultaneously to the proper selfexpression of each citizen, to the balancing of central governmental authority with meaningful individual liberty and to the more effective countering of external threats to the common good, military service ought to be the right as well as the obligation of members of the political community rather than the occupation of a separate class of paid professionals, as Ferguson argued throughout his campaign on behalf of a Scottish militia. Again the Essay makes recognizably the same point: If the defence and government of a people be made to depend on a few, who make the conduct of state or of war their profession; whether these be foreigners or natives; 34 Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature whether they be called away of a sudden, like the Roman legion from Britain; whether they turn against their employers, like the army of Carthage, or be over-powered and dispersed by a stroke of fortune, the multitude of cowardly and undisciplined people must, on such an emergence, receive a foreign or a domestic enemy, as they would a plague or an earthquake, with hopeless amazement and terror …38 In the context of Scotland’s growing importance as a source of professional soldiers and commanders during the successful wars of the late 1750s and early 1760s, and the hitherto unimaginable expansion in the scale and scope of the British state’s power by the time that Ferguson was formulating the Essay, to draw attention to the potentially fatal consequences of the creation of a discrete class of military specialists for the welfare and liberties of society as a whole was necessarily to provoke uncomfortable thoughts about his own country.
Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature (The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century) by Eugene Heath, Vincenzo Merolle