By Adam Ferguson
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Extra resources for Adam Ferguson: Selected Philosophical Writings
When taken in this sense, it will not surely be thought to comprehend at once all the motives of human conduct. If men be not allowed to have disinterested benevolence, they will not be denied to have disinterested passions of another kind. Hatred, indignation, and rage, frequently urge them to act in opposition to their known interest, and even to hazard their lives, without any hopes of compensation in any future returns of preferment or profit. Section III: Of the principles of Union among Mankind Mankind have always wandered or settled, agreed or quarrelled, in troops and companies.
In this mood frequently we can find nothing important, besides the deliberate prospects of interest; and a great work, like that of forming society, must in our apprehension arise from deep reflections, and be carried on with a view to the advantages which mankind derive from commerce and mutual support. But neither a propensity to mix with the herd, nor the sense of advantages enjoyed in that condition, comprehend all the principles by which men are united together. Those bands are even of a feeble texture, when compared to the resolute ardor with which a man adheres to his friend, or to his tribe, after they have for some time run the career of fortune together.
Even extremes, in this class of our dispositions, as they are the reverse of hatred, envy, and malice, so they are never attended with those excruciating anxieties, jealousies, and fears, which tear the interested mind; or if, in reality, any ill passion arise from a pretended attachment to our fellow-creatures, that attachment may be safely condemned, as not genuine. If we be distrustful or jealous, our pretended affection is probably no more than a desire of attention and personal consideration, a motive which frequently inclines us to be connected with our fellow-creatures; but to which we are as frequently willing to sacrifice their happiness.
Adam Ferguson: Selected Philosophical Writings by Adam Ferguson