Rationalism. The Scottish School and the Reassertion of “Common Sense” . Thomas Reid (1710-1796) “ I despise philosophy, and renounce its guidance – let my sould dwell with Common Sense.” Believed philosophy had gone astray with Descartes and Locke
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“ I despise philosophy, and renounce its guidance – let my sould dwell with Common Sense.”
Believed philosophy had gone astray with Descartes and Locke
Mind not acquainted with objects, but only with copies, ideas.
Reid thought this was the way to skepticism… if mind works as Descartes and Locke said, there is no way to ensure that ideas are veridical copies of objects.
Contemporary parallel: put document in copying machine. Look only at the copies. We assume the copies resemble the original, but can’t look at the original; can’t validate our assumption.
[Berkeley: no big deal – there was no original document. The “copy machine” (mind) made the “copies” out of bits and pieces of sensations, but the “copies” correspond to no original. As long as the machine of the mind produced stable and coherent experience, we could study it and build a science on it.]
Returned to Aristotelian view that perception merely records the world as it is.
We know the world in direct, unmediated way
View sometimes known as “direct” realism
Raised 2 issues of importance to later psychology:
Rejected idea (Berkeley, Locke, Hume, Kant) that conscious experience is made up of bits and pieces of sensations. No need to postulate forces that hold sensations together. Analysis of complex ideas into simple ones is artificial…. The raw material of experience is the object itself (anticipation of Gestalt)
Most later psychologists followed Hume and Kant, but Realism kept alive by Brentano, Gestalt psychologists, German phenomenologists, and Wm. James)
Innate faculties and principles of mind that allow us to know the world accurately and give us essential truths.
Note: Reid was a clergyman, as well as a philosopher. He stayed within the boundaries of religion; Hume did not.
More reconciled to Hume that was Reid.
Abandoned term “common sense” and used associative concepts extensively
Basic work, Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792) reads like an Intro. Psych text (based on everyday experience, not lab experiments, however).
Chapters on attention, association (learning), memory, imagination, dreaming. Very contemporary approach… while he dissected mind into component faculties, he also made some arguments that are found in modern information-processing theories. Devoted 62 pages to showing practical value of study of psychology.
Through Stewart, Scottish philosophy became influential in America. Some of America’s early college founders and presidents were adherents of the Scottish School.