Thomas Reid (cameo picture here) was born in the village of Strachan in Aberdeenshire in 1710. Although less well known today than other, more celebrated Scottish philosophers such as David Hume, his influence is, in some respects, equally as great. In fact, in his day, and indeed into the 19th century, he was considered to be a more important philosopher than Hume
Like many in those days, Reid went into the ministry after his graduation in 1726. In 1752, he was awarded a chair at King’s College in Aberdeen. In 1764 he published “An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense.” In this book, Reid put forward his idea that ‘common sense’ – essentially a person’s ability to understand universal ideas -should be central to philosophy and debate. He was at odds with David Hume over this thesis, with the latter arguing that people could never truly know what the world consists of because their knowledge is limited to their own minds.
The ‘Common sense’ philosophy became popular in America, especially during the American Revolution. Not only did it find favour with the US founding fathers, but future presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were both influenced greatly by it, while Benjamin Rush’s realist ideas influenced his strong moral opposition to slavery. ‘Common Sense’ was also the title of the famous pamphlet written by Thomas Paine which made an impassioned case for independence, which, at that time, had not been given serious intellectual consideration in either Britain or the American colonies. As late as 2006, it remained the all-time best-selling American title and is still in print today.
While we can’t promise you that a job with RGU will lead to you creating a philosophy that will help underpin the growth of a world superpower, it’s nice to know that you’ll be living and working in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest thinkers.
Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist, RGU