Before and after modernity: the legacy of Adam Ferguson

Andrew Blaikie

in The Scots Imagination and Modern Memory

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780748617869
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653515 | DOI:
Before and after modernity: the legacy of Adam Ferguson

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This chapter discusses the meaning of civil society and looks at its origins in the Scottish Enlightenment. It notes some have argued that, contrary to being ignored or undiscovered, Ferguson is much renowned amongst political philosophers, while among other epithets, he has been identified as ‘The Father of Modern Sociology’. It opines that although the retrospective labeling of a Scottish Enlightenment suggests its successful insertion into the canon of philosophical historiography, and the profundity of Smith and Hume rests beyond doubt, the disciplinary mnemonic of Ferguson's imprint within sociology has been fainter than one might expect, its students by and large having been socialized into regarding him as something of a distant progenitor. It notes that countless references allude to Ferguson's part in the conception of sociology, but his presence during its early development seems indistinct, and although his influence is recognized the lineages remain obscure.

Keywords: civil society; Scottish Enlightenment; philosophical historiography; Hume; Ferguson; sociology

Chapter.  10455 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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