Adam Ferguson and the danger of books

Smith, C. (2006) Adam Ferguson and the danger of books. Journal of Scottish Philosophy, 4(2), pp. 93-109. (doi: 10.3366/jsp.2006.4.2.93)




Throughout his career Adam Ferguson made a series of conservative political pronouncements on contemporary events.This paper treats these pronouncements as having a solid basis in his social theory and examines his place in the conceptual development of the tradition of British conservatism.It examines Ferguson's distinction between two forms of human knowledge: book learning of abstract science acquired from formal education and capacity acquired from practical experience in real affairs. Ferguson's empiricism leads to a series of sustained warnings against the danger of excessive abstraction to the pursuit of science and these concerns are extended into the social and political realm as he cautions against reliance on abstract philosophy and defends the superiority of practical politicians.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Professor Craig
Authors: Smith, C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Scottish Philosophy
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):1755-2001
Published Online:01 September 2006
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2006 Edinburgh University Press
First Published:First published in Journal of Scottish Philosophy 4(2):93-109
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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