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The Environment

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Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives internationales d’histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 191)

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Material World Human Ecology Moral Progress Great Chain 
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References

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    Essay, pp. 106–118.Google Scholar
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    Although Montesquieu was not the first thinker to acknowledge the importance of the environment to civilisation he was the most successful publiciser of this idea. Such speculations can be traced back as far as the classical period, most notably to Hippocrates. Clarence J. Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967, pp. 562–8. The Lebanese historian Ibn Khaldoun also predates Montesquieu in terms of these insights, though he does not appear to have had any influence on Ferguson. Khaldoun’s Al Muqaddimah (Introduction to History) was written in the fourteenth century and was published in London in 1680. Like Montesquieu, Khaldoun believed that local climate and topography affected social attitudes. A. Issa, ‘Ibn Khaldoun, Montesquieu and the Theory of Climate’, Studi de Sociologia Vol. 30 (2) 1992, pp. 181–7.Google Scholar
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    Herlihy, ‘Attitudes Toward the Environment’, p. 102. In the book of Genesis, we are told that God commissioned Adam to ‘replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and very the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth’ (The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testament, Authorised King James Version, London: Collins Cleartype Press, 1952, Genesis I. 26. 28. p. 7. St Francis of Assisi is a notable exception to this type of Christian triumphalism. In any case Glacken disputes the influence of early Christianity and especially the sentiments expressed in Genesis. Rather he sees exploitative attitudes to nature as a function of humanity’s increasing power over nature via increasing technological progress. Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, p. 494.Google Scholar
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