"A MAJOR SYNOPSIS OF ENLIGHTENMENT PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, SCOTS STYLE": LORD KAMES' MAGNUM OPUS, SKETCHES OF THE HISTORY OF MAN, 1774 FIRST EDITION IN CONTEMPORARY CALF
KAMES, Henry Home, Lord. Sketches of the History of Man. Edinburgh: W. Creech… W. Strahan, and T. Cadell, in London, 1774. Two volumes. Quarto, contemporary full tan polished calf, raised bands, red morocco spine labels. $8800.
First edition of the work that the Kames himself referred to as his "magnum opus," a "major synopsis of Enlightenment philosophical anthropology," two quarto volumes in contemporary polished calf.
"Kames was perhaps the most complete 'Enlightenment man' among the 18th-century Scottish thinkers. In print, in conversation and in correspondence, he concerned himself with the whole spectrum of human knowledge and its applicability to his society. He wrote extensively on agricultural and horticultural matters, just as he wrote on everything else… It was in law, criticism, philosophical history and, to some extent, philosophy that Kames made his name, both in his own time and for posterity… Sketches of the History of Man (1774) was a major synopsis of Enlightenment philosophical anthropology, Scots style… Another of his major concerns is to show that the function of humanity's natural powers, theoretical and practical, is subject to significant development through the history of the species. This shows itself in the different moral institutions—ranging from property and marriage to the state and international law—that emerge at different stages of development, and much of Kames' social theorizing consists in analyzing the interrelation of individual and institutional setting. In this connection his Sketches presents the stadial theory that is well known from Smith, Millar and Adam Ferguson, and he uses it in other works as the framework for sophisticated legal history" (Yolton, et al., Dictionary of 18th-Century British Philosophers, 503-06). The Sketches "represents Lord Kames' contribution to the developing science of natural history. In a way, the book is a compendium of Kames' thought; indeed, he refers to it in one place as his magnum opus" (Arthur McGuinness, Henry Home, Lord Kames, 119). Included are sections on the female sex, on commerce and government, on the American nations, on reason, on Aristotle's logic and on morality. A separate essay, "Sketches concerning Scotland," is appended. (There is also an interesting discussion of authors' copyright, the book trade, and the dissemination of knowledge in Volume I, p. 500n). With half titles. Armorial bookplate of William Wrightson of Cusworth in Yorkshire; contemporary owner ink signature.
Interiors clean and fine. Expert repairs to joints, spine ends and boards. An exceptionally good set in contemporary calf.