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Hume Studies Volume 29, Number 2, November 2003, pp. 378-380 THOMAS REID. The Correspondence of Thomas Reid. Edited by Paul Wood. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002. Pp. xxvii + 356. ISBN 0-74861163 -0, cloth, £95. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2003. Pp. xxvii + 356. ISBN 0-271-02283-3, cloth, $95. This book is volume 4 of the Edinburgh Edition of Thomas Reid. When the edition is complete, somewhat surprisingly it will be the first edition of Reid's Collected Works for about 150 years. This is evidence of the degree to which Reid was unjustly neglected during the same period—from the point at which his pre-eminence in Scottish philosophy and abroad began to fade (roughly 1845) until the first volume of this new edition appeared in 1995. "Unjustly" neglected is the key term here, because any proper appreciation of Reid's philosophical works must place him in the second rank of major philosophers , behind Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, or Kant certainly, but alongside Leibniz, Locke, and Berkeley, and arguably ahead of Hume, whose name has overshadowed his for such a long time. If philosophical attention is returning to Reid, this is partly because of the Edinburgh Edition, which has both prompted and aided it. Accordingly, grateful thanks are due to its editors, among whom Paul Wood is prominent. This is the second of three volumes to be edited by him, and he will share in editing a fourth. Wood's name has long been associated with the study of Thomas Reid, and he brings to the two volumes so far published under his editorship an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and the material relevant to it. This volume of correspondence is expertly done. Wood has located and reproduced as accurately as possible all 131 extant letters not only from Reid and to him, but in a few cases about him (for example, the letter from Lord Deskford to William Cullen mentioning Reid's name as the fittest person in Scotland to succeed Adam Smith in the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow). Relatively few of these letters date from Reid's time at Aberdeen—a little less than 20—and the majority from the thirty-two years he spent in Glasgow. Appended to the correspondence are Reid's notes on a work of James Gregory's. The editorial principles Wood has applied are clearly laid out at the beginning , and he has added to the text of the letters over seventy pages of explanatory and textual notes, a chronology of Reid's life and works, and two indices, one of subjects and places, the other of persons and titles, and a list of the known lost letters. AU this additional material is very useful in making one's way intelligently about the collection. As a whole the volume Hume Studies Book Reviews 379 represents a huge amount of scholarly work that has put Reid's correspondence at the easy disposal of both historians and philosophers . Once launched on such a project, completeness is obviously essential, but it is inevitable some items will be more interesting than others. And so indeed it proves. There are letters here to and from Hume, Kames, Gregory, and Dugald Stewart, important intellectual figures of Reid's time (though not all of them are intellectually important letters). But there are also short notes to and from relatives, acquaintances, colleagues, and business men that cannot be said to have more than curiosity value. And in the case of the letters about Reid, some people may not share the editor's estimation of what is worth including. For example, following the aforementioned letter from Lord Deskford (which is plainly of some interest), there is Reid's (short and largely formal) letter to Thomas Miller accepting the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow. But this is followed by Miller's three line covering note to the Principal of Glasgow University , the value of which is rather less clear. This is not by any means the only letter to raise this question. Certainly completeness is a virtue of a sort, but it does mean the inclusion of material of uncertain value. One might make a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 378-380
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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