There is no greater impediment to the advancement of knowledge than the ambiguity of words.

— Thomas Reid

The most powerful Thomas Reid quotes that are little-known but priceless

The rules of navigation never navigated a ship. The rules of architecture never built a house.


In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest.


I wanted to be a part of the downtown renaissance.


The want of faith, as well as faith itself, is best shewn by works.

If a sceptic avoid the fire as much as those who believe it dangerous to go into it, we can hardly avoid thinking his scepticism to be feigned, and not real.


The laws of nature are the rules according to which the effects are produced;

but there must be a cause which operates according to these rules. The laws of navigation never navigated a ship. The rules of architecture never built a house.


Every conjecture we can form with regard to the works of God has as little probability as the conjectures of a child with regard to the works of an adult.


The finest productions of human art are immensely short of the meanest work of Nature. The nicest artist cannot make a feather or the leaf of a tree.


A philosopher is, no doubt, entitled to examine even those distinctions that are to be found in the structure of all languages... in that case, such a distinction may be imputed to a vulgar error, which ought to be corrected in philosophy.


Acting is not being emotional, but being able to express emotion.


Every theory in philosophy, which is built on pure conjecture, is an elephant;

and every theory that is supported partly by fact, and partly by conjecture, is like Nebuchadnezzar's image, whose feet were partly of iron, and partly of clay.


And, if we have any evidence that the wisdom which formed the plan is in the man, we have the very same evidence, that the power which executed it is in him also.


It is the invaluable merit of the great Basle mathematician Leonard Euler, to have freed the analytical calculus from all geometric bounds, and thus to have established analysis as an independent science, which from his time on has maintained an unchallenged leadership in the field of mathematics.


About Thomas Reid

Quotes 26 sayings
Nationality Scottish
Profession Philosopher
Birthday October 16

For the perception of the beautiful we have the term "taste"--a metaphor taken from that which is passive in the body and transferred to that which is active in the mind.


Every indication of wisdom, taken from the effect, is equally an indication of power to execute what wisdom planned.


In every case, we ought to act that part towards another, which we would judge to be right in him to act toward us, if we were in his circumstances and he in ours; or more generally - What we approve in others, that we ought to practise in like circumstances, what we condemn in others we ought not to do.


It appears evident, therefore, that those actions only can truly be called virtuous, and deserving of moral approbation, which the agent believed to be right, and to which he was influenced, more or less, by that belief.


The wisdom of God exceeds that of the wisest man, more than his wisdom exceeds that of a child. If a child were to conjecture how an army is to be formed in the day of battle--how a city is to be fortified, or a state governed--what chance has he to guess right? As little chance has the wisest man when he pretends to conjecture how the planets move in their courses, how the sea ebbs and flows, and how our minds act upon our bodies.


A definition is nothing else but an explication of the meaning of a word, by words whose meaning is already known. Hence it is evident that every word cannot be defined; for the definition must consist of words; and there could be no definition, if there were not words previously understood without definition.


I sit in my loft with the haves and look out at the have-nots - the bottom of the bottom - and I have to rationalize it, ... Am I pushing out the homeless?


It is natural to men to judge of things less known, by some similitude they observe, or think they observe, between them and things more familiar or better known. In many cases, we have no better way of judging. And, where the things compared have really a great similitude in their nature, when there is reason to think that they are subject to the same laws, there may be a considerable degree of probability in conclusions drawn from analogy.


must acknowledge, that to act properly is much more valuable than to think justly or reason acutely.


For, until the wisdom of men bear some proportion to the wisdom of God, their attempts to find out the structure of his works, by the force of their wit and genius, will be vain.


But when, in the first setting out, he takes it for granted without proof, that distinctions found in the structure of all languages, have no foundation in nature; this surely is too fastidious a way of treating the common sense of mankind.


It is a question of fact, whether the influence of motives be fixed by laws of nature, so that they shall always have the same effect in the same circumstances.


There is no greater impediment to the advancement of knowledge than the ambiguity of words. To this chiefly it is owing that we find sects and parties in most branches of science [and politics]; and disputes that are carried on from age to age, without being brought to issue.


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