Thomas Reid

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
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The unpacking of Hazlitt's epistemology of common sense shows up its basis in imagination; on that basis, Hazlitt's model of common sense might insightfully be compared to that of the eighteenth-century philosopher of common sense, Thomas Reid. This comparison can be extended, in turn, to language: where Reid proposes a common language for philosophy, Hazlitt's commitment to common sense is manifest in a more radical break from philosophical exposition itself.