Possible Theological Perspectives in Thomas Reid's Common Sense Philosophy Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • It is well known that Thomas Reid, premier exponent of the Common Sense school of Scottish philosophy, was an ordained and active minister. Less clear is the role played by theology in the deve opment ofthat philosophy as it matured slowly under his pen, particularly in me most prominent of his works, the Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785) and the Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind (1788), works which range widely over the field of human experience and the nature of reality. When philosophy and theology assumed more distinct and separate identities in the generations which succeeded Reid, it became common for critics of the Common Sense school to base their analyses solely on philosophical foundations and to neglect the theological underpinning which is essential to a fuller and clearer grasp of Keid s position. It would be a useful contribution to more than one discipline were Thomas Reid's philosophy linked more closely to the development and extent of his theological thinking. While his philosophical writings are strewn with theological references in the way typical of the eighteenth century, there is more substance in these references than is usually the case, when divines ofthat age wrote philosophy. That they are much more than casual, conventional embellishments becomes apparent from a careful reading of his works.

publication date

  • July 1990