Adam Ferguson and the danger of books

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Smith, C. (2006)

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.
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