Unsocial Sociability in the Scottish Enlightenment: Ferguson and Kames on War, Sociability and the Foundations of Patriotism

History of European Ideas 41 (5):662-682 (2015)
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SummaryThis article reconstructs a significant historical alternative to the theories of ‘cosmopolitan’ or ‘liberal’ patriotism often associated with the Scottish Enlightenment. Instead of focusing on the work of Andrew Fletcher, Francis Hutcheson, David Hume or Adam Smith, this study concentrates on the theories of sociability, patriotism and international rivalry elaborated by Adam Ferguson and Henry Home, Lord Kames. Centrally, the article reconstructs both thinkers' shared perspective on what I have called ‘unsociable’ or ‘agonistic’ patriotism, an eighteenth-century idiom which saw international rivalship, antagonism, and even war as crucial in generating political cohesion and sustaining moral virtue. Placing their thinking in the context of wider eighteenth-century debates about sociability and state formation, the article's broader purpose is to highlight the centrality of controversies about human sociability to eighteenth-century debates about the nature of international relations.



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