Evidence and Belief, Common Sense, and the Science of Mind in the Philosophy of Thomas Reid

Dissertation, The American University (1987)

This dissertation attempts to expose the influence of Francis Bacon on the philosophy of Thomas Reid. Reid was a self-professed Baconian who viewed the human mind as a subject which was amenable to scientific investigation. Reid attempts to develop his own theory of mind according to the method of induction and experiment and general philosophy of science of Bacon. Further, Reid's use of the Baconian idols in his attack on the theory of ideas is explored. In addition, it is argued that this Baconian approach helps to illuminate Reid's direct realism in perception as well as Reid's indebtedness to Bacon in his treatment of sensations as a system of signs. Finally, Reid develops a theory of evidence and common sense which owes much to the legal discussion of the time. This again links Reid to Bacon who made a similar use of legal metaphors in defending his philosophy of science against scholastic apologists. By appealing to textual evidence in the works of both philosophers' writings and reconstructing Reid's positions in light of this influence, it is hoped that a better understanding of Reid's notion of common sense is ultimately reached as well as a solution to the problem of intentionality in Reid's theory of perception
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