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Henry Home, Lord Kames

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Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696December 27, 1782) was a Scottish philosopher of the 18th century. Born in Kames, Berwickshire, he became an advocate (the Scottish equivalent of the English barrister) and was one of the leaders of the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1752, he was "raised to the bench", thus acquiring the title of Lord Kames.

Homes wrote much about the imporance of property to society. In his Essay Upon Several Subjects Concerning British Antiquities, written just after the Jacobite revolt of 1745 he described how the politics of Scotland were not based on loyalty to Kings or Queens as Jacobites had said but on royal land grants given in return for loyalty.

In Historical Law Tracts and later in Sketches on the History of Man he described human history as having four distinct stages. The first was as a hunter gatherer where people avoided each other out of competition. The second stage he described was a herder of domestic animals which required forming larger societies. No laws were needed at these stages except those given by the head of the family or society. Agriculture was the third stage requiring greater cooperation and new relationships to allow for trade or employment (or slavery). He argued that 'the intimate union among a multitude of individuals, occasioned by agriculture' required a new set of rights and obligations in society. This requires laws and law enforcers. A fourth stage moves from villages and farms to seaports and market towns requiring yet more laws and complexity but also much to benefit from.

The above studies created the genre of the story of civilisation and defined the fields of anthropology and sociology and therefor the modern study of history for two hundred years.

Homes was also on the panel of judges in the Joseph Knight case which ruled that there could be no slavery in Scotland.

His works included

  • Essays upon Several Subjects in Law (1732)
  • Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion (1751)
  • Introduction to the Art of Thinking (1761)
  • Elements of Criticism (1762)
  • Sketches of the History of Man (1776).

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