Reid, Thomas

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

Reid, Thomas,

1710–96, Scottish philosopher. He taught at King's College, Aberdeen, and at the Univ. of Glasgow. He is known as the founder of the common-sense school of philosophy, also known as the Scottish school, a group that had considerable influence in Great Britain and the United States during the 19th cent. Common sense is regarded as self-evident knowledge, the means by which we know the objects of the external world. These objects are known by us in their true sense and not as copies or ideas. This is the theory of natural realism, and it is the point of difference with the theories of John Locke. Reid based morality on conscience or moral sense, the ethical position of intuitionism. He had considerable influence on Dugald Stewart and Sir William Hamilton. His writings include An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (1764), Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785), and Essays on the Active Powers of Man (1788).


See his Philosophical Works, ed. with notes and supplementary dissertations by Sir William Hamilton (2 vol, 8th ed. 1895, repr. 1967); A. J. Ayer and R. Winch, ed., British Empirical Philosophers (1968); N. Daniels, Thomas Reid's Inquiry (1989); K. Lehrer, Thomas Reid (1989).

Reid, Thomas


Born Apr. 26, 1710, in Strachan, Kincardine; died Oct. 7, 1796, in Glasgow. British idealist philosopher and originator of the Scottish philosophy of common sense.

Reid became professor of philosophy at King’s College in Aberdeen in 1751 and professor at the University of Glasgow in 1764. He attacked the skepticism of D. Hume and all of British empiricism and sensualism, schools that maintained the experiential origins of knowledge. Central to Reid’s works is the concept of common sense, by which he meant, first, a special intuitive capacity of the mind, and second, the totality of first and undeduced principles or judgments. In his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785), Reid lists 12 main judgments of common sense that are placed in people’s minds by god and that serve as the basis for cognition. The judgments include belief in god, in the existence of an external world, and in a natural ability to distinguish truth from falsehood. In the 20th century, some of Reid’s tenets were resurrected in new realism and linguistic philosophy.


The Works of Thomas Reid, vols. 1–2. Edited by W. Hamilton. Edinburgh, 1872.


Istoriia filosofii, vol. 2. Moscow, 1941. Pages 269–72.
Fraser, A. C. Thomas Reid. Edinburgh-London [1898].
Grave, S. A. The Scottish Philosophy of Common Sense. Oxford, 1960.
Sciacca, M. F. La filosofia di T. Reid, 3rd ed. Milan, 1963.


References in periodicals archive ?
Subs: Kiely (gk), Koren, Barnett, Wood, Reid, Thomas, Teixeira.
CHARLTON: Carson, Young, Diawara, Fortune, Hreidarsson, Hughes, Kishishev, Reid, Thomas, Marcus Bent, Hasselbaink.
Reid, Thomas and Bent were finding a nice groove and joined forces once more after 33 minutes.
Subs: Kiely (gk), Beattie, Barnett, Cox, Reid, Thomas, Valero.