Thomas Reid (1710-1796)

About Reid

  • Student of George Turnbull at Aberdeen (ODNB*)
  • Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow, 1764-1780
  • Founding member of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society (1758–1773) (see here for membership and archival materials at University of Aberdeen, Special Collections)
  • Member of the Glasgow Literary Society
  • Critic of David Hume and proponent of ‘Common Sense’ philosophy


  • Regent at King’s College, Aberdeen, 1751-1764 (ODNB*)
  • At ‘public’ class at Glasgow, lectured on pneumatology, ethics, and politics: two hours a day each morning during the session (ODNB*)
  • ‘Private’ class three days a week during the session on the ‘culture of the mind’ (ODNB*)
  • Successful teacher who prospered despite having a dry style (ODNB*)
  • Left teaching to his assistant Archibald Arthur in 1780 (ODNB*)


  • T Reid, Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense (London and Edinburgh, 1764) Available from Google Books
  • T Reid, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785) Available from the Internet Archive
  • T Reid, Essays on the Active Powers of Man (Edinburgh, 1788), includes chapter, ‘Of Systems of Natural Jurisprudence’, at 387-94) Available from Google Books
  • T Reid, Practical Ethics: Being Lectures and Papers on Natural Religion, Self-Government, Natural Jurisprudence, and the Law of Nations, ed. Knud Haakonssen (Princeton, 1990) Available from Google Books

Material in Libraries, Archives, and Digital Collections

  • Reid Project: includes catalogue, bibliography and downloadable issues of Reid Studies: An International Review of Scottish Philosophy
  • The Papers of Thomas Reid (Digitised by University of Aberdeen, Special Collections)
  • Thomas Reid Papers (MS 3061): essays and notes on a variety of topics (University of Aberdeen, Special Collections)
  • Birkwood Collection (MS 2131): ‘over 800 items relating to the writings and teachings of Thomas Reid’ (University of Aberdeen, Special Collections). Including MS 2131/7/VII/21, ‘Of the Law of Nations’
  • A Arthur, ‘Archibald Arthur’s notes on Thomas Reid’s lectures (1765)’, Mitchell Library, Glasgow, MS 891086
  • Robert Jack, ‘Dr Reid’s Lectures, 1774-1776’,University of Glasgow, Special Collections (GUL) MS 116-18
  • George Baird, ‘Notes from the Lectures of Dr Thomas Reid, 1779-80’, 8 vols, Mitchell Library, Glasgow, MS A104929


NPG D5598; Thomas Reid by Charles Picart, after  John Tassie
Thomas Reid
by Charles Picart, after John Tassie
stipple engraving, published 1811
NPG D5598
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Creative Commons Licence

*For references, see the Site Bibliography.