Enlightened Histories: Civilisation, War and the Scottish Enlightenment
The concept of civil society continues to generate considerable interest, while the concept of civilisation attracts comparatively little attention. This has lead to a tendency to oversimplify the relationship between civil societies and militarily powerful sovereign states. Civil societies, it is often argued, are those societies that have emerged from a successful process of domestic pacification and effective control of state power. In this paper, it will be argued that some prominent Scottish Enlightenment thinkers developed theories of civilisation grounded in more complex historical narratives in which the accomplishments of civil society were tied to the achievement of state sovereignty based on the successful monopoly of military might. The purpose of this paper is to trace the role of state sovereignty and military monopolisation, and the consequent prominence given to the practice of war, in the 'historical' theories of civilisation articulated by David Hume, William Robertson, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson.
The European Legacy
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