Philosophy Word of the Day – Thomas Reid (1710 – 1796)

Doug Geivett recently posted this summary of philosopher Thomas Reid on

Thomas Reid was the most significant philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment. He greatly influenced the thought of America’s founding fathers, and set the tone for early American higher education (mainly at Princeton).

Reid’s contemporary, David Hume, is better known. But Reid was an acute thinker who recognized the intellectual and cultural cul de sac of Humean skepticism for what it was.

Three reasons to love Thomas Reid

First, Thomas Reid is the father of modern Common Sense philosophy. His method of philosophical analysis is exemplary and worthy of emulation by the coming generation of philosophers.

Second, Thomas Reid was the clearest and most incisive contemporary critic of David Hume and his skepticism. The world has yet to digest Reid’s importance on this point.

Third, Thomas Reid wrote with such clarity that he is a joy to read, and with such subtlety that he is misunderstood by some very clever contemporary philosophers. For example, it is mistakenly supposed by many that Thomas Reid was what is now called an “externalist” in epistemology, when there is considerable evidence that he was an “internalist.” The confusion is due less to Reid’s exposition than to modern predilections in philosophy.

For more on Thomas Reid see here and here.


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