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thomasreid

Am I Crazy? Or Is Rand a Reincarnated Thomas Reid?

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Let's be honest. Nobody's heard of Reid. We've all heard of Kant, and even though Rand confuses him with Hume most of the time, and blames Kant's subjectivism on Kant (should be on Hume), we all pass over Reid and don't realize that he (and his sidekick James Beattie) were the Rands of the 18th century. It is amazing how much Reid's common sense (rational and OBVIOUS a priori-ization) and his contempt for empiricism look like Rand's arguments 200 years later. It really is eerie. What you really have is Reid setting the stage for what ... ? Oh, everything, the USA (immanent rights), James, Peirce, Existentialism ... and then Heidegger stepping in and taking Descartes even further inside (? man he's weird, fun to read, should have stayed in side with the French chick) and then Rand. Throw out all your other books (except for the Genealogy) and your esoteric office shelves will be much easier to clean. So, my lordship, my lord, I humble myself before the great one, Thomas Reid ... the guy who said "*&*)* your mother" to Hume.

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Such large claims need fleshing-out. They are so large that the web forum format may not have room for all you'd need to say. The first and so far last I've read about Reid was his Wikipedia writeup, and nothing characteristically Randian leapt out at me.

So much effort has been expended over the years making her out as a Taoist, a Hegelian, a postmodernist, a highbrow Tillich / Niehbur Christian, a lowbrow fundamentalist Christian, a secretly-coded Jew, a 60s radical, a Manhattan / LA westside establishment liberal, a flower child and probably plenty more that I haven't heard of, that one of your tasks will be to explain why nobody saw this before.

Let us know when you're ready.

Edited by Reidy

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I think the reason nobody saw the connection is that nobody has heard of Reid. As you say, you have only seen a Wiki article, which is about all you find if you don't go looking. Everyone is obsessed with Hume and Kant and they forgot the other piece of the puzzle because he's too simple. As Dan Robinson puts it, "Reid doesn't take the time to be confusing enough." For more on confusion, see Heidegger.

I think a good way to start the fleshing out is with my comment on a priori. Think about what Kant was doing. He was mad at Hume for dangerously removing the idea from Metaphysics and drowning the discipline (killing metaphysics). Kant's effort was to revive it to continue Philosophy proper and to stay with fundamentals. But you need fundamentals to continue them. So, Kant argues that you can posit a priori in a synthetic way and this brings about "transcendentalism," for Kant. I'm not saying I agree with this.

What Reid and Rand do about this very topic is they make an implicit argument through their style (arguments) that amount to: Some things are just given (really given). As Robinson says in one of his famous Youtube Hume vs Reid sections, How does Reid explain that we have access to the material world? Because we do.

In a vacuum this would be a whole stew of fallacies. But with the other work surrounding Reid (and maybe even Rand), there becomes a constellation of careful and thoughtful discussions that bring about the common sense, "obvious" character of their a priori substructures.

Kant tried to do this. He just tried to be too rigorous.

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Rand was a student of reality and a master of identification and conceptualization.  Knowing nothing of Reid myself, it does stand to reason that IF Reid were also a student of reality and a master of identification and conceptualization, I would expect that he and her would have had much the same to say, especially given that there is but a single reality.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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Wow that is really weird, as I've just started a class on Thomas Reid and the Scottish common sense school today. It's quite true that Reid and his followers have some very proto Randian ideas.

First, it is important to understand Reid was a contemporary of David Hume and his writings were basically a response to Hume's skepticism. Reid basically says if this is where your philosophy ends up, then that's a prima facie reason for your philosophy being wrong. When we reach a conclusion that was inferred from premises, if the conclusion is plainly false, such as we can't know anything or reality isn't real, etc., then we must reject the entire line of reasoning as absurd and start over. 

Reid reinstated foundationalism, that is, there must be noninferential justification. This is quite similar to Rand's conception of "verification," which is a wider genus to which "proof" belongs. The epistemologist doesn't start out by saying "prove existence and logic and consciousness, etc.," as in Descartes, rather the epistemologist starts out "we have knowledge, we know existence exists, we need to find the proper method." 

He also argues against representationalism in Locke, and although he doesn't have a theory of perception of his own, he takes for granted the validity of the senses. Perception is not of ideas, but direct perception of objects. I don't need a "proof" for why my hand is in front of my face currently, I just point to it. There is no propositional justification necessary. He would've likely foubd much to enjoy of Kelley's Evidence of the Senses. Once we perceive objects, we can abstract our ideas from their similarities and differences, building more complex ideas upon less complex ones. A remarkably proto Randian view, although he holds to some older distinctions like primary vs secondary qualities that Rand rejects.

Although he holds to a mind-body dichotomy, he does not draw inferences from it. There are minds and consciousness, we study the former with natural science and the latter with psychology, they are whatever they are.

I don't know about his ethics yet, be he was a religious man, and seems he was an ethical intuitionist applying his common sense view to morality. And therein lies probably Rand's major difference, that sometimes Reid seems to be saying there are innate beliefs about the foundations of reason. Although he does say that "morality can be demonstrated as of mathematics." He also believes free will is among his self evident principles.

All in all, his major influence seems to be saying most of modern philosophy is absurd and abstruse gibberish. There is a certain framework that must be within which an investigation can take place. Reality is real, existence exists, there are objects we are directly aware of, the senses are valid, reason is valid, yes believe your hand in front of your face, and if you doubt any of these things then throw your philosophy away or check your premises.

http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/authors/reid

"For, before men can reason together, they must agree in first principles; and it is impossible to reason with a man who has no principles in common with you." One of the first principles he goes on to list is that "qualities must necessarily be in something that is figured, coloured, hard or soft, that moves or resists. It is not to these qualities, but to that which is the subject of them, that we give the name body. If any man should think fit to deny that these things are qualities, or that they require any subject, I leave him to enjoy his opinion as a man who denies first principles, and is not fit to be reasoned with." (Cf. Wikipedia) 

"It is useless to reason with someone who denies the first principles on which the reasoning is based. Thus it would be useless to try to prove a proposition in Euclid to someone who denies Euclid’s axioms. Indeed we ought never to reason with men who deny first principles because they are obstinate and unwilling to yield to reason." (Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man)

 

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So much for my assertion that nobody reads Reid anymore. A class? I wish I could take a class. Dan Robertson said there was a resurgence, but I had no idea.

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Also, I think Reid's explicit target was Locke. But many believe he made it about Locke as a summation for his response to Hume. And he had a weird reverence for Hume.

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It is true that Reid has utmost respect for Hume and wrote to him that if he stopped doing philosophy "we would have nothing to talk about." It seems Reid considered Hume the reductio ad absursum of enlightenment epistemology, so it makes sense he would attack Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Locke quite often.

Have you heard of the "New Hume" tradition, according to IEP:

Against the positions of causal reductionism and causal skepticism is the New Hume tradition. It started with Norman Kemp Smith’s The Philosophy of David Hume, and defends the view that Hume is a causal realist, a position that entails the denial of both causal reductionism and causal skepticism by maintaining that the truth value of causal statements is not reducible to non-causal states of affairs and that they are in principle, knowable. (Tooley 1987: 246-47)  

http://www.iep.utm.edu/hume-cau/#H6

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The way Robertson explains the new Hume stuff makes it sounds like the debate is about whether cause exists or cause is unknowable. This for me just drags out the skepticism and absurdity if you like Reid. The position seems to be that either Hume in fact believed cause was a fantasy and should be attributed to the habit of the mind OR he thought it was in the noumenal, to steal Kant's crap.

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12 hours ago, thomasreid said:

The way Robertson explains the new Hume stuff makes it sounds like the debate is about whether cause exists or cause is unknowable. This for me just drags out the skepticism and absurdity if you like Reid. The position seems to be that either Hume in fact believed cause was a fantasy and should be attributed to the habit of the mind OR he thought it was in the noumenal, to steal Kant's crap.

My understanding is that the New Humeans read him as a naturalist rather than a skeptic. That is, they think that Hume held that causality is real, and that we know that it is real, but that this knowledge is not based on reason but on another source ("instinct, habit, or custom"). If you're coming at this from an Objectivist point of view then it does sound as though he was a skeptic, because the Objectivist account of knowledge is dependent on reason.

It's been a while since I studied Hume, so I could be wrong.

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On 4/4/2018 at 9:54 PM, 2046 said:

Reid reinstated foundationalism, that is, there must be noninferential justification. This is quite similar to Rand's conception of "verification," which is a wider genus to which "proof" belongs. The epistemologist doesn't start out by saying "prove existence and logic and consciousness, etc.," as in Descartes, rather the epistemologist starts out "we have knowledge, we know existence exists, we need to find the proper method."

Rand called that genus validation not verification. You may be confusing her with Positivism....

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On 4/6/2018 at 7:02 AM, William O said:

My understanding is that the New Humeans read him as a naturalist rather than a skeptic. That is, they think that Hume held that causality is real, and that we know that it is real, but that this knowledge is not based on reason but on another source ("instinct, habit, or custom"). If you're coming at this from an Objectivist point of view then it does sound as though he was a skeptic, because the Objectivist account of knowledge is dependent on reason.

It's been a while since I studied Hume, so I could be wrong.

Perception is the non propositional “base” of justification....I do realize that causality is identified explicitly, conceptually...

Edited by Plasmatic

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