"Preparing the Youthful Mind for Virtuous Actions:" Adam Ferguson at the University of Edinburgh

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Title: "Preparing the Youthful Mind for Virtuous Actions:" Adam Ferguson at the University of Edinburgh
Author: Carroll, Ashley Nicole
Advisors: Dr. Anthony La Vopa, Committee Chair
Dr. Steven Vincent, Committee Member
Dr. Mi Gyung Kim, Committee Member
Abstract: Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) has not fared well in Scottish Enlightenment scholarship. He has either been relegated to the historical periphery in favor of the luminaries of the period, or has been studied only as a member of the "moderate" literati, a group of university trained Presbyterian clerics. The latter approach has been traditionally taken when examining Ferguson's career at the University of Edinburgh. While many members of the Scottish literati played key roles in the Scottish university system in the eighteenth century, Ferguson's teaching goals set him apart from his contemporaries. Ferguson used his classroom and written works to instruct his students on how to be virtuous citizens and act within the public sphere. His teachings were rarely innocuous and often contradicted the beliefs of the "moderates" with whom he is so often grouped. For Ferguson, teaching was a form of political activism. Ferguson hoped to stop the moral and political corruption that he believed accompanied eighteenth-century economic prosperity by shaping his students to fit his mold of the ideal citizen. This paper examines Ferguson's career at the University of Edinburgh, focusing specifically on how he attempted to change the society in which he lived through teaching the country's future leaders. It is also hoped that studying Ferguson independent of his fellow "moderates" will provide a more nuanced and accurate representation of Ferguson than is currently available in historical scholarship.
Date: 2007-04-27
Degree: MA
Discipline: History
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2086

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