By Eugene Heath, Vincenzo Merolle
Expanding numbers of students have famous Ferguson's contribution to Enlightenment pondering, yet no collections of scholarly essays were dedicated to him. during this, the 1st of 2 comparable monographs, essays diversity throughout all of Ferguson's works to enquire his engagement with modern occasions and his contributions to our knowing of historical past and human motion. targeted one of the prime figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Ferguson observed eighteenth-century revolutions, the yank and the French. On those and on many different vital modern matters, the perspectives he expressed assisted in shaping public opinion. yet his paintings right here additionally extends again to Roman occasions, approximately which he drew comparisons with the society of his day. As proven in those essays, he not just provided his innovations on and defined background, he investigated the character of heritage itself.
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Additional info for Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature (The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century)
Along with Wynne’s work Ferguson took [The Procedure, Extent, and] Limits of Human Understanding, a critique of Locke, published anonymously by Peter Browne, Bishop of Cork and Ross (1728). Robert Sheringham’s 44 Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature De Anglorum gentis origine disceptatio [Treatise on the Origin of the English People] (1670) was another choice, as was [Roman History] by Dio Cassius, edited by N. C. Falconius (1747–9). A week later the professor checked out six more books.
11 Suffice it to say that Scotland looms predictably large for each of these writers not only as a familiar and convenient source of specific historical examples but also from time to time as the main focus for more concerted argument and polemic. However, An Essay on the History of Civil Society is strangely and singularly different from these companion pieces that emerged at roughly the same time, in approximately the same intellectual environment and from within Ferguson’s own Edinburgh-based circle of friends and colleagues.
14 As we shall see, the Essay was actually brim-full with material that reflected Ferguson’s deep curiosity about matters very close to home. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the Essay having taken the form that it did without Ferguson’s profound indebtedness to a rich tradition of Scottish historiography, as well as to contemporary social and political commentary on the country and its distinctive circumstances. It is with reconstructing some aspects of this unacknowledged Scottish context to Ferguson’s greatest work, and also with offering a potential explanation for his unwillingness to foreground his keen interest in Scotland itself, that the remainder of the present essay is chiefly concerned.