1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kames, Henry Home, Lord

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KAMES, HENRY HOME, Lord (1696–1782), Scottish lawyer and philosopher, son of George Home of Kames, in Berwickshire, where he was born in 1696. After receiving a somewhat imperfect education from a private tutor, he was in 1712 indentured to a writer to the signet in Edinburgh, but an accidental introduction to Sir Hew Dalrymple, then president of the court of session, determined him to aspire to the position of advocate. He accordingly set himself to studying various branches of literature, specially metaphysics and moral philosophy. He was called to the bar in January 1724, and, as he lacked those brilliant qualities which sometimes command immediate success, he employed his leisure in the compilation of Remarkable Decisions in the Court of Session from 1716 to 1728 (1728). This work having attracted attention, his power of ingenious reasoning and mastery of law gradually gained him a leading position at the bar. In 1752 he was appointed a judge in the court of session under the title of Lord Kames, and in 1763 he was made one of the lords of justiciary. In 1741 he married Agatha Drummond, through whom in 1761 he succeeded to the estate of Blair Drummond, Perthshire. He continued to discharge his judicial duties till within a few days of his death at Edinburgh on the 27th of December 1782.

Lord Kames took a special interest in agricultural and commercial affairs. In 1755 he was appointed a member of the board of trustees for encouragement of the fisheries, arts and manufactures of Scotland, and about the same time he was named one of the commissioners for the management of the forfeited estates annexed to the Crown. On the subject of agriculture he wrote The Gentleman Farmer (1776). In 1765 he published a small pamphlet On the Flax Husbandry of Scotland; and, besides availing himself of his extensive acquaintance with the proprietors of Scotland to recommend the introduction of manufactures, he took a prominent part in furthering the project of the Forth and Clyde Canal. He was also one of the founders of the Physical and Literary Society, afterwards the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It is, however, as a writer on philosophy that Lord Kames is best known. In 1751 he published his Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion (Ger. trans., Leipzig, 1772), in which he endeavoured to maintain the doctrine of innate ideas, but conceded to man an apparent but only apparent freedom of the will. His statement of the latter doctrine so aroused the alarm of certain clergymen of the Church of Scotland that he found it necessary to withdraw what was regarded as a serious error, and to attribute man’s delusive sense of freedom, not to an innate conviction implanted by God, but to the influence of the passions. His other philosophical works are An Introduction to the Art of Thinking (1761), Elements of Criticism (1762), Sketches of the History of Man (1774).

See Life of Lord Kames, by A. F. Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (2 vols., 1807).