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Thomas Reid founded the Scottish School of Common Sense. Reid argued that common sense, the belief that what our senses tell us is more or less true, is the basis for all philosophy. He criticized the philosophies of David Hume and George Berkeley, which reject the ability to know the external world. Reid argued that the foundations of common sense justify the belief in the existence of an external world. In order to engage in any kind of philosophical inquiry, said Reid, one has to assume certain givens like “I am talking to another person.” Reid believed that anyone not capable of such assumptions was insane, and not worth discussing philosophy with.
Reid posited a direct realism—that the world around us is as we perceive it to be—against the idealism of Berkeley. He believed that this epistemological bedrock was the beginning of ethical philosophy. If one knows that the world is as he perceives it to be, then he knows how to act because he knows what is true.
The Works of Thomas Reid offers all of Reid’s published works, along with his correspondence. In Logos, you can perform near-instant searches and jump between various titles with a click. Juxtapose Reid’s realism and Berkeley’s idealism with side-by-side comparison. Use the dictionary lookup function to define difficult philosophical terms.