Norman Kemp Smith

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Norman Duncan Kemp Smith FRSE (5 May 1872 – 3 September 1958) was a Scottish philosopher who was Professor of Psychology (1906–14) and Philosophy (1914–19) at Princeton University and was Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh (1919–45).[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born Norman Smith in 1872 in Dundee, Scotland.[2] He was educated in Dundee and then studied Mental Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews, graduating with first-class honours in 1893.[3] He added his wife's last name when he married Amy Kemp in 1910.[4] He is noted for his English translation of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.


Kemp Smith received his doctorate in 1902 from the University of St. Andrews. He lectured in philosophy and psychology at Princeton from 1906 to 1916, and at Edinburgh from 1919 until his retirement in 1945. He is best known for his English translation of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, published in 1929 and often used as the standard English version of the text. His commentaries on the Critique are also well regarded, as are his works on David Hume and other philosophers. He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1947 to 1948. A portrait by the Edinburgh artist Adam Bruce Thomson is held by the University of Edinburgh's Fine Art Collection.[5]

Kemp Smith died on 3 September 1958 in Edinburgh.[3]

Books and articles[edit]

  • Studies in the Cartesian Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1902)
  • "The Naturalism of Hume (I)" and "The Naturalism of Hume (II)", Mind, 14 (1905) Nos. 54 and 55: 149–73 and 335–47
  • "Subjectivism and Realism in Modern Philosophy", The Philosophical Review, 17 (1908) No. 2: 138–48
  • "How Far Is Agreement Possible in Philosophy?", The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 9 (1912) No. 26: 701–11
  • "Kant’s Relation to Hume and Leibniz", The Philosophical Review, 24 (1915) No. 3: 288–96
  • A Commentary to Kant’s 'Critique of Pure Reason' (London: Macmillan, 1918)
  • Prolegomena to an Idealist Theory of Knowledge (London: Macmillan, 1924)
  • The Philosophy of David Hume: A Critical Study of Its Origins and Central Doctrines (London: Macmillan, 1941)
  • New Studies in the Philosophy of Descartes (1951)


  1. ^ "Obituary: Prof. N. Kemp Smith – Kantian scholar". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 6 September 1958. p. 11. 
  2. ^ Porteous, A. J. D. (2015). The Credibility of Divine Existence: The Collected Papers of Norman Kemp Smith. Springer. p. 3. ISBN 9781349816552. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Professor Norman Kemp Smith. A translator of Descartes". The Glasgow Herald. 4 September 1958. p. 9. Retrieved 15 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Norman Kemp Smith (1872–1958), University of Edinburgh Philosophy Department web site. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
  5. ^ "Portrait of Norman Kemp Smith". Retrieved 20 February 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Loeb, Louis E. (2009). What is Worth Preserving in the Kemp Smith Interpretation of Hume? British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 17(4), 769–797.

External links[edit]