Ferguson: An Essay on the History of Civil Society

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Cambridge University Press, 1995 - History - 283 pages
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Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) was one of the central figures in the Scottish Enlightenment. His Essay on the History of Civil Society (first published in 1767) is a bold and novel attempt to reclaim the tradition of active citizenship and apply it to the modern state. Drawing on such diverse sources as classical authors and contemporary travel literature, Ferguson offers a complex model of historical advance which challenges both Hume's and Smith's embrace of modernity and the primitivism of Rousseau. Ferguson combines a subtle analysis of the emergence of modern commercial society with a critique of its abandonment of civic and communal virtues. Central to Ferguson's theory of citizenship are the themes of conflict, play, political participation and military valour. His fascination with the theory of unintended consequences as a model of historical causality does not deter him from insisting on the irreplaceable value of individual, public-minded members of political society.
 

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Contents

Of the General Characteristics of Human Nature
7
Of the principles of Selfpreservation
16
Of the principles of Union among Mankind
21
Of the principles of War and Dissension
24
Of Intellectual Powers
29
Of Moral Sentiment
35
Of Happiness
43
The same subject continued
50
Of the History of Arts
161
Of the History of Literature
164
Of Consequences that result from the Advancement of Civil and Commercial arts
172
Of the Subordination consequent to the Separation of Arts and Professions
175
Of the Manners of Polished and Commercial Nations
179
The same subject continued
183
Of the Decline of Nations
194
Of the Temporary Efforts and Relaxations of the National Spirit
199

Of National Felicity
59
The same subject continued
63
Of the History of Rude Nations
74
Of Rude Nations prior to the Establishment of Property
80
Of Rude Nations under the Impressions of Property and Interest
94
Of the History of Policy and Arts
106
The History of Subordination
118
Of National Objects in general and of Establishments and Manners relating to them
131
Of Population and Wealth
133
Of National Defence and Conquest
141
Of Civil Liberty
148
Of Relaxations in the National Spirit incident to Polished Nations
203
The same subject continued
213
Of National Waste
220
Of Corruption and Political Slavery
224
Of Luxury
231
Of the Corruption incident to Polished Nations
235
The same subject continued
241
Of Corruption as it tends to Political Slavery
247
Of the Progress and Termination of Despotism
257
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About the author (1995)

Fania Oz-Salzberger is Professor of History at the University of Haifa and director of the Posen Forum for Political Thought at the Faculty of Law. She has authored books and articles on the history of political thought.

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