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Cover for the book Thomas Reid: Essays on the Intellectual Power of Man

Thomas Reid: Essays on the Intellectual Power of Man

A Critical Edition Edited by Derek Brookes, and Introduction by Knud Haakonssen
  • Copyright: 2002
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 668 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02236-9
  • Series Name: Edinburgh Edition of Thomas Reid
  • Co-publisher: Edinburgh University Press
“Derek R. Brookes’ new annotated edition of Reid’s Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man is, therefore, both timely and welcome.”
“Regarding this new edition, not enough can be said briefly in its favor.”
“At once it should be said how pleasurable it is to read Reid’s words in this new typography. . . . It is anyway fitting that the work of a philosopher whose relevance to present-day debate is increasingly recognized by dignified but uncluttered modern layout. But more specifically the line numbers on every page of this new text give Reid scholars something very useful that they have never had before. . . . At all events the publication of these manuscripts opens up new areas of debate, and further unpublished material—some of it germane to EIPM—is promised as a supplement to the new critical edition of the Essays on the Active Powers. The Edinburgh edition is building into a magnificent series, and Thomas Reid’s present and future readers have every reason to be grateful to its editors.”

Thomas Reid (1710–1796) is increasingly seen as a philosopher of lasting importance and as a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Intellectual Powers is his greatest work. It covers far more philosophical ground than the earlier, more popular Inquiry. Intellectual Powers and its companion volume, Essays on the Active Powers of Man, constitute the fullest, most original presentation of the philosophy of Common Sense. In this work Reid provides acutely critical discussions of an impressive array of thinkers but especially of David Hume. In Reid's view, Hume had driven a deep tendency in modern philosophy to its ultimate conclusion by creating a phantom-world of "ideas" that spring from objects of observation. On this account, the self is a conglomeration of perceived ideas; the will, as the source of action, is nothing but the balance of passionate impulses.

Reid's Common Sense philosophy responds to these problems by suggesting that skeptics such as Hume unavoidably affirm what they purport to deny—namely, the existence of a stable external world, of other minds, of the continuity of their own minds, and of their own and other people's ability to ascribe and accept responsibility for actions. We can understand all of these things by proper empirical observation and philosophical analysis of the activity of the mind. Reid's major positive contribution to philosophy is a detailed account of the various innate powers of the mind. This is the only properly established text. It is accompanied by Reid's manuscript lectures on the nature and immortality of the soul as well as helpful editorial annotations and an introduction, making it useful to a wide variety of readers.

Derek R. Brookes is the editor of Thomas Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (Penn State, 1997). He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Australian National University.

Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History and Director of the Sussex Centre for Intellectual History, University of Sussex, and the General Editor of the Edinburgh Edition of Thomas Reid.


Preface vi

Introduction ix

Note on the Text xiii


Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man




Essay I Preliminary

Essay II Of the Powers we have by means of our

External Senses

Essay III Of Memory

Essay IV Of Conception

Essay V Of Abstraction

Essay VI Of Judgment

Essay VII Of Reasoning

Essay VIII Of Taste

2. "Three Lectures on the Nature and Duration of the Soul''

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