Kames’s general philosophy, that is, his view of man, society and the world about him — as distinguished from his thinking on such more specific matters as law, literary criticism, politics and religion, which will engage us in later chapters — and any contributions he may have made to thinking on such matters, must be viewed against the background of the tendencies and developments in philosophy generally in the Scotland of his day.1


Human Nature Social Animal Natural Religion Metaphysical Reasoning Sophical Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Boswell, Life of Johnson, p. 392.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tytler, II, App., 81–85. See also Randall, op. cit., pp. 75–77.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Boswell, Life of Johnson, p. 414.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ramsay, I, 319; also Harold W. Thompson, The Man of Feeling (London, 1931), pp. 21, 43 and 148.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See John H. Millar, Scottish Prose in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Glasgow, 1912), pp. 4ff; Henry G. Graham, Scottish Men of Letters in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1901), Ch. I; and Ramsay, I, Ch. I, esp. pp. 1–11.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Graham, op. cit., pp. If..Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See also J. H. Millar, op. cit., pp. 4f.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Henry Meikle, “Some Aspects of Later Seventeenth-Century Scotland.” David Murray Lectures (Glasgow: Glasgow University Press, 1947), vol. LXXIII.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For further information on these men and their contributions, see, beside the Meikle lecture referred to above, the Dictionary of National Biography, under the respective names, and also George Chalmer’s, Thomas Ruddiman (1674–1757), Notes on his Life (London, 1794). Pitcaime also receives attention in Chalmer’s biography. He has recently been the subject of study by Scottish scholars, but the present author knows of no recent publications on the subject.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Founded in 1682, this Advocates Library ¡ª adjacent to Parliament Hall, seat of the Scottish High Courts, and readily accessible to it by an underground passage ¡ª had, even at this early date, one of the best collections of historical materials, juridical and non-juridical ¡ª much of it in manuscript form ¡ª to be found anywhere. It has been said that it is to Scottish history what the Bodleian is to English history. It is still, as the National Library of Scotland, unique among Scottish libraries and ¡ª for all things Scottish ¡ª among libraries everywhere. It has recently received a new home, most of it built on the original site on George IV. Street, South.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    The most pertinent works here are David Daiches, The Paradox of Scottish Culture: The Eighteenth Century Experience (London, 1964) and James Kinsley (ed.), Scottish Poetry: A Critical Survey (London, 1955) ¡ª a suggestive collection of essays ¡ª especially chapters V and VI. See also John Speirs, The Scots Literary Tradition (London, 1940), and David Craig, Scottish Literature and the Scottish People: 16801830 (Cambridge, 1961). An older, more general work of pertinence here is George Gregory Smith, Scottish Literature: Its Character and Influence (London, 1919). These works and their importance were brought to my attention in conversations with Ian S. Ross. See also Ross’s article in the Philological Quarterly previously referred to, pp. 615f.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Tytler, Memoirs, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh, 1814), vol. I, p. 223. Also Supplement (1809), p. 13.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    The origin of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society can be traced back indirectly to 1718, in a group calling themselves “An Association for Improving Each Other in Classical Lore,” to be reorganized or followed ¡ª it is not clear exactly which, but at any rate the membership is much the same ¡ª in 1731 by the “Society for the Improvement of Medical Knowledge,” under the guidance of Alexander Munro, the elder. This in turn became in 1737, under the leadership of Colin Maclaurin, the “Edinburgh Society for the Improvement of Arts and Sciences,” the nature of its activities now considerably broadened, only to languish with the death of Maclaurin in 1746 and with the disturbances accompanying the rising of the ‘45. It was, however, to be revived soon after this, chiefly under the leadership of Hume, Karnes and Alexander Munro, and soon became known as the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. By 1752, Kames could write to his friend Cullen that he had “got in good measure the management” of the society. In 1769, he was elected its president, an office he continued to hold apparently to the end of his life. In 1783, within a year after Kames’s death, this society was reorganized into the Royal Society of Edinburgh (R.S.E.), with a charter from the Crown. See Tytler, I, 184f. and II, 86n.; Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1788), Vol. I, pp. 3–100; Edinburgh Philosophical Society, Essays and Observations, Physical and Literary, vol. I (1754), Preface; and Scots Magazine, IV (1742), p. 94, XVI (1754), pp. 184f., and LXVI (1804), pp. 421–423. See also McElroy, op. cit., pp. 27–31 and 34–40.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    The Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk, 1722–1805, ed. John H. Burton (London, 1910 ed.), p. 312.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    There is conflicting evidence relating to Kames’s membership in this club. Boswell reports Kames as telling him that he was a member (Private Papers, XV, p. 284). Available records do not, however, list him among members at any time and some contemporaries, including Ramsay, say he was not a member. McElroy, op. cit., pp. 23f., arrived at the conclusion, on careful examination of all available evidence, that the latter view is correct and that there must, therefore, have been either a confusion with some other society or a slip of memory.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Scots Magazine, XXXIII (1771), pp. 340–44.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    This college was actually chartered and its fellows already named but the scheme failed for lack of funds. See Scots Magazine, XV, p. 53, and XXXIII (1771), p. 341.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Carlyle, Autobiography, pp. 311f. and Stewart, Works, vol. x, pp. 109f. and 203207.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Tytler, I, 176f and 184, and 175–184 generally. See also on the Select Society Ramsay, I, 321n.; Scots Magazine, XXIII (1761), pp. 389f. and 440f.; and Mc Elroy, op. cit., pp. 48–67 passim.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    This “plan” proved rather abortive, perhaps because of its somewhat utopian character, but the list of its directors and honorary or “extraordinary” directors is impressive, containing some of the most prominent literary and public figures of the day. There were three Lords of Session, four Earls, five or six prominent advocates, several clergymen and university professors, merchant John Fordyce, architect John Adam, surgeon James Russell and Lord Elibank. See Scots Magazine, XXIII (1761), pp. 440f; also XVI, p. 184 and XVII, p. 126. See on this matter also Rae, Life of Adam Smith, pp. 107–20, and McElroy, op. cit., pp. 55ff.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    The Mirror, No. 83 (Feb. 22, 1780). The Mirror was one of several Scottish literary periodicals that flourished at about this time. It was founded in 1779 and was published semi-weekly, Jan. 23, 1779 to May 27, 1780. William Craig, a Lord of Session, was perhaps its ablest contributor and next to its principal editor, Henry Mackenzie ¡ª the “man of feeling” ¡ª apparently also its most frequent contributor. It was followed in 1785 by the Lounger, also under Mackenzie’s editorship. The Bee, apparently of somewhat lesser significance, won considerable popularity a few years later. Earlier, beginning in or about 1753, there was the World, a periodical of which Karnes spoke highly. All of these were built more or less on the pattern of the earlier English periodicals, the Spectator, the Guardian and the Rambler. The first Edinburgh Review, a periodical on a different style, reached only two numbers, July and December, 1755. Among its contributors, all remaining anonymous, are known to have been Adam Smith, Hugh Blair, William Robertson, and allegedly but not certainly also David Hume. Jeffrey’s Edinburgh Review, destined to have a far greater influence on both letters and politics, and a long life, was not founded until 1802, and thus belongs to another era.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Tytler, II, 157n., quoting William Forbes, Life of Beattie.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    J. H. Millar, op. cit., pp. 177f.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    Edinburgh Magazine and Review, vol. I (1774), pp. 310f. See also infra, p. 181, n. 12.Google Scholar
  25. 36.
    Ramsay, I, 195.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    For a general characterization of the Sketches, see infra, p. 181, n. 12. For Kames’s expression of his expectations for this work, see infra, p. 149.Google Scholar
  27. 22.
    Edinburgh Philosophical Society, Essays and Observations, vol. I, Article 1.Google Scholar
  28. 22.
    Kames, The Progress of the Flax Husbandry in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1766), reprinted in Scots Magazine, XXVIII (Jan., 1766), pp. 15–27.Google Scholar
  29. 90.
    On the Macpherson matter, see letter, Kames to Elizabeth Montagu, 16 Feb., 1772, quoted in Randall, op. cit., pp. 112f.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    See Scots Magazine, Vol. XXI (1759), pp. 660f. On Adam Smith’s lectures at Edinburgh see especially, W. R. Scott, Adam Smith as Student and Professor (Glasgow, 1937) Ch. V.Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    See Boswell, Life of Johnson, pp. 790f., and Tytler, I, 198.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • William C. Lehmann

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations