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The Pressures of Society

  • Allan Ingram

Abstract

This is the theme of an early letter from Lord Chesterfield to his son, one of the series which is probably the eighteenth century’s most comprehensive course in social instruction. Chesterfield, from the very beginning, selects for particular insinuation the concept that the potentially successful man is he who becomes aware that propriety is neither more nor less than the collective opinion of other people — ‘you would be reckoned a fool’, ‘gain the approbation of mankind’. The man who conforms by instinct alone will be an acceptable member of society, but whoever attains to a positive consciousness of this first principle of social morality may manipulate and exploit his knowledge to his own considerable advantage.

Keywords

Social Morality Collective Opinion Natural Impulse Early Letter Emotional Ambivalence 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Lord Chesterfield, Letters to his Son and Others, intro. R. K. Root (1929) p. 1.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo trs. James Strachey (1960 edn) pp. 33, 72.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    John Hill,Hypochondriasis (1766) ed. G. S. Rousseau, Augustan Reprint Society no. 135 (1966) p. 14.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    John Moore, Medical Sketches (1786), cited by Hunter and Macalpine, Three Hundred Years p. 497.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) p. 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 15.
    F. A. Pottle, James Boswell: the Earlier Years 1740–1769 (1966), relates what little is known of Boswell’s early education.Google Scholar
  7. 24.
    Philip Barrough, The Methods of Phisicke (1583), cited by Hunter and Macalpine, Three Hundred Years p. 28.Google Scholar
  8. 25.
    Alexander Chalmers (ed.), British Essayists (1808) XXIX, p. 258.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Allan Ingram 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Ingram

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