REID, Thomas (1710-1796)
Essays on the Active Powers of Man
Edinburgh: John Bell and G.G.J. & J. Robinson, 1788. Quarto. vii, , 493, pp. Half-title. Without the final ad leaf.
Contemporary speckled calf, flat spine ruled in gilt, red morocco lettering piece.
First edition of a major work of the Scottish Enlightenment.
In this work, Reid "combined a defence of the concept of human free will with an attack on aspects of Hume's theory of morals. Together, the two Essays shaped the teaching of moral philosophy in Britain and America well into the nineteenth century, partly thanks to the influence of his disciple Dugald Stewart, but also because they provided the basis for a systematic account of the faculties of the mind which was both well suited to the practicalities of pedagogy and consistent with most variants of protestant theology" (ODNB). Reid, the Professorship of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow following Adam Smith, was the founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense and played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment. A contemporary of David Hume, Reid was also Hume's earliest and fiercest critic. Reid's philosophy would be among the Scottish Enlightenment philosophers embraced by the Founding Fathers and can be traced to their ideals of "self-evident" truths.