Cover: Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Roman Past and Europe’s Future, from Harvard University PressCover: Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment in HARDCOVER

Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment

The Roman Past and Europe’s Future

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$55.00 • £47.95 • €50.95

ISBN 9780674072961

Publication Date: 03/18/2013


288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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The book is a comprehensive guide to Ferguson’s political thought. McDaniel gives proper weight to nearly everything his subject wrote, with the Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) and History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1783) predominating, but also including Ferguson’s letters and his lectures, published and unpublished. Equally valuable is the way in which McDaniel places Ferguson in his Scottish and European contexts: we are given substantial explanations of contemporary arguments by Hume, Lord Kames, Sir John Dalrymple, Allan Ramsay, Gabriel Bonnot de Mably and others.—Barton Swaim, Times Literary Supplement

Amid his military and political diversions, Ferguson grappled with every major philosophical figure of the Enlightenment. McDaniel skillfully captures the cut and thrust of these intellectual engagements… McDaniel adeptly presents Ferguson’s thinking and places it in dialogue with luminaries such as Montesquieu, Rousseau and Adam Smith. The payoff is a richer understanding of Enlightenment debate as it confronted modern political economy.—Jeffrey Collins, Wall Street Journal

McDaniel is astute and precise on Ferguson’s debts to and differences from Montesquieu, and his analysis of how Ferguson ran against the tide in terms of how commercial societies might function is excellent.—Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment is on the whole intelligent and convincing… Students of Adam Ferguson and European intellectual history should be sure to read McDaniel’s book.—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly

To be born in the first quarter of the 18th century and seek fame as an Enlightenment moral philosopher was to run in a field that included David Hume, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rather than claim that Adam Ferguson deserves a higher finish, McDaniel shows instead that Ferguson was a central figure in discussions begun by Montesquieu on monarchy, republics, democracies, and empire, and their implications for Europe’s political future. By placing Ferguson’s writings in this rich and cosmopolitan conversational context, he shows how both Roman and ‘conjectural history’ were central elements in this discussion, and how this ‘politics of historiography’ played on the issues of the relationship of commerce and political virtue and on the relationship between governmental forms to conflicts between civil and military power.—E. J. Eisenach, Choice

Iain McDaniel’s major new study on the work of Adam Ferguson is without question the most serious examination of the political thought of this important but relatively neglected figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. It should be required reading for students of the Enlightenment, with relevance to scholars across the fields of the history of political thought and historically-oriented political theory.—Richard Bourke, Queen Mary, University of London

Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment is the work of an extremely able scholar who has something important to say and the ability to say it. It deals with the political thought of the later Enlightenment, with its concern with the future of the European state system in an age of war, commerce, empire and revolution, and more particularly with the threat of military despotism to which the greatest European states seemed vulnerable. McDaniel’s contribution to the political thought of the Scottish Enlightenment is revelatory and of fundamental importance.—Nicholas Phillipson, University of Edinburgh

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