By Adam Ferguson
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Additional info for Adam Ferguson: Selected Philosophical Writings
What this propensity was in the first moment of its operation, we know not; but with men accustomed to company, its enjoyments and. disappointments are reckoned among the principal pleasures or pains of human life. Sadness and melancholy are connected with solitude; gladness and pleasure with the concourse of men. The track of a Laplander on the snowy shore gives joy to the lonely mariner, and the mute signs of cordiality and kindness which are made to him, awaken the memory of pleasures which he felt in society.
On the one they are fixed to the soil, and seem to be formed for settlement, and the accommodation of cities: The names they bestow on a nation, and on its territory, are the same. On the other they are mere animals of passage, prepared to roam on the face of the earth, and with their herds, in search of new pasture and favorable seasons, to follow the sun in his annual course. Man finds his lodgment alike in the cave, the cottage, and the palace; and his subsistence equally in the woods, in the dairy, or the farm.
What is happy, or wretched, in the manners of men? What, in their various situations, is favorable or adverse to their amiable qualities? [These] are questions to which we may expect a satisfactory answer; and whatever may have been the original state of our species, it is of more importance to know the condition to which we ourselves should aspire, than that which our ancestors may be supposed to have left. Section II: Of the principles of Self-preservation If in human nature there are qualities by which it is distinguished from every other part of the animal creation, men are themselves in different climates and in different ages greatly diversified.
Adam Ferguson: Selected Philosophical Writings by Adam Ferguson