Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. Cadell, in the Strand; and W. Of the general Characteristics of Human Nature. Of Happiness, - - - - 67 Edition:
It remains a matter of debate as to whether, at the Battle of FontenoyFerguson fought in the ranks throughout the day, and refused to leave the field, though ordered to do so by his colonel.
Nevertheless, he certainly did well, becoming principal chaplain in He continued attached to the regiment tillwhen, disappointed at not obtaining a living, he left the clergy and resolved to devote himself to literary pursuits.
After residing in Leipzig for a time, he returned to Edinburgh where in January he succeeded David Hume as librarian to the Faculty of Advocates see Advocates' Librarybut soon relinquished this office on becoming tutor in the family of the Earl of Bute. Inhe published his Essay on the History of Civil Societywhich was well received and translated into several European languages.
In the mids he travelled again to the Continent and met Voltaire. His membership of The Poker Club is recorded in its minute book of In appeared his anonymous pamphlet on the American Revolution in opposition to Dr Richard Price 's Observations on the Nature of Civil Libertyin which he sympathised with the views of the British legislature.
In Ferguson was appointed secretary to the Carlisle Peace Commission which endeavoured, but without success, to negotiate an arrangement with the revolted colonies. In appeared his History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic ; it became very popular and went through several editions.
Ferguson believed that the history of the Roman Republic during the period of their greatness formed a practical illustration of those ethical and political doctrines which he studied especially.
The history reads well and impartially, and displays conscientious use of sources. The influence of the author's military experience shows itself in certain portions of the narrative.
Tired of teaching, he resigned his professorship inand devoted himself to the revision of his lectures, which he published under the title of Principles of Moral and Political Science. In his seventieth year, Ferguson, intending to prepare a new edition of the history, visited Italy and some of the principal cities of Europe, where he was received with honour by learned societies.
He is buried in the churchyard of St Andrews Cathedralagainst the east wall. His large mural monument includes a carved profile portrait in marble. Ethics[ edit ] In his ethical system Ferguson treats man as a social being, illustrating his doctrines by political examples.
As a believer in the progression of the human racehe placed the principle of moral approbation in the attainment of perfection. We find in his method the wisdom and circumspection of the Scottish school, with something more masculine and decisive in the results. The principle of perfection is a new one, at once more rational and comprehensive than benevolence and sympathy, which in our view places Ferguson as a moralist above all his predecessors.
By this principle Ferguson attempted to reconcile all moral systems. Francis Hutcheson 's theory of universal benevolence and Adam Smith 's idea of mutual sympathy now empathy he combines under the law of society.
But, as these laws appear as the means rather than the end of human destiny, they remain subordinate to a supreme end, and the supreme end of perfection. Social thought[ edit ] Ferguson's An Essay on the History of Civil Society drew on classical authors and contemporary travel literature, to analyze modern commercial society with a critique of its abandonment of civic and communal virtues.
Central themes in Ferguson's theory of citizenship are conflict, play, political participation and military valor. He emphasized the ability to put oneself in another's shoes, saying "fellow-feeling" was so much an "appurtenance of human nature" as to be a "characteristic of the species.
Ferguson saw history as a two-tiered synthesis of natural history and social history, to which all humans belong. Natural history is created by God ; so are humans, who are progressive.
Social history is, in accordance with this natural progress, made by humans, and because of that factor it experiences occasional setbacks. But in general, humans are empowered by God to pursue progress in social history.
Humans live not for themselves but for God's providential plan. He emphasized aspects of medieval chivalry as ideal masculine characteristics. British gentleman and young men were advised to dispense with aspects of politeness considered too femininesuch as the constant desire to please, and to adopt less superficial qualities that suggested inner virtue and courtesy toward the 'fairer sex.
He believed that the growth of a commercial society through the pursuit of individual self-interest could promote a self-sustaining progress. Yet paradoxically Ferguson also believed that such commercial growth could foster a decline in virtue and thus ultimately lead to a collapse similar to Rome's.
Ferguson, a devout Presbyterianresolved the apparent paradox by placing both developments in the context of a divinely ordained plan that mandated both progress and human free will. For Ferguson, the knowledge that humanity gains through its actions, even those actions resulting in temporary retrogression, form an intrinsic part of its progressive, asymptotic movement toward an ultimately unobtainable perfectibility.
Ferguson believed that civilization is largely about laws that restrict our independence as individuals but provide liberty in the sense of security and justice.
He warned that social chaos usually leads to despotism. The members of civil society give up their liberty-as-autonomy, which savages possess, in exchange for liberty-as-security, or civil liberty.
Montesquieu used a similar argument.
According to Smith, commerce tends to make men 'dastardly'. This foreshadows a theme Ferguson, borrowing freely from Smith, took up to criticize capitalism. Ferguson's critique of commercial society went far beyond that of Smith, and influenced Hegel and Marx.Ferguson published his collected lectures in It is here that we find Ferguson's contributions to moral philosophy, mainly his idea of Stoical "perfection" and an attempt at reconciling all the different Scottish positions.
Major Works of Adam Ferguson. An Essay on the History of Civil Society, An Essay on the History of Civil Society by Adam Ferguson Part First. Of the General Characteristics of Human Nature Section I.
Of the question relating to the State of Nature Natural productions are generally formed by degrees. Vegetables grow from a . An Essay on the History of Civil Society, - Ebook written by Adam Ferguson. Read this book using Google Play Books app on your PC, android, iOS devices.
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Of the General Characteristics of Human Nature Section I. Of . Ferguson's An Essay on the History of Civil Society () drew on classical authors and contemporary travel literature, to analyze modern commercial society with a critique of its abandonment of civic and communal virtues.
Central themes in Ferguson's theory of citizenship are conflict, play, political participation and military valor. Mar 10, · Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ). Adam Ferguson () was one of the lesser lights of the Scottish Enlightenment.
I don’t mean this in the sense that he is not equally deserving of respect as .