An Essay on the History of Civil Society - Wikipedia
talents of men come to be employed in a variety of affairs, and their inquiries directed to different subjects. Knowledge is important in every department of civil society, and requisite to the practice of every art. The science of nature, morals, politics, and history, find their several admirers; and even poetry itself, which retains its former station in the region of warm imagination and enthusiastic passion, appears in a growing variety of forms.
Ferguson an essay on the history of civil society pdf
we mean to pursue the history of civil society, our attention must be chiefly directed to such examples, and we must here bid farewell to those regions of the earth, on which our species, by the effects of situation or climate, appear to be restrained in their national pursuits, or inferior in the powers of the mind.
NATURAL productions are generally formed by degrees. Vegetables are raised from a tender shoot, and animals from an infant state. The latter, being active, extend together their operations and their powers, and have a progress in what they perform, as well as in the faculties they acquire. This progress in the case of man is continued to a greater extent than in that of any other animal. Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the species itself from rudeness to civilization. Hence the supposed departure of mankind from the state of their nature; hence our conjectures and different opinions of what man must have been in the first age of his being. The poet, the historian, and the moralist frequently allude to this ancient time; and under the emblems of gold, or of iron, represent a condition, and a manner of life, from which mankind have either degenerated, or on which they have greatly improved. On either supposition, the first state of our nature must have borne no resemblance to what men have exhibited in any subsequent period; historical monuments, even of the earliest date, are to be considered as novelties; and the most common establishments of human society are to be classed among the encroachments which fraud, oppression, or a busy invention, have made upon the reign of nature, by which the chief of our grievances or blessings were equally with-held.