Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man/Essays on the Active Powers of Man Context

Thomas Reid


(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

At the age of seventy-one, Thomas Reid resigned from his University of Glasgow professorship to prepare for publication his celebrated classroom lectures on mental and moral philosophy. The intellectual world already knew the general thrust of the new Scottish Realism through his Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (1764); however, the full articulation and defense of the system awaited the appearance of his two books of essays, works so lucid and so plausible that they became almost at once the basis of the orthodox philosophy of the English-speaking world. Reid’s philosophy is everything that a “public philosophy” should be. Although it lacks the graceful style of certain eighteenth century philosophers, it has a masculine strength and a directness that still arouses admiration.