DO WE USE OUR COMMON SENSE NOW A DAYS?
MY PARENTS ALWAYS SAID ” USE YOUR COMMON SENSE!”
“THIS WAS A MYSTERY TO ME!”
I FELT LIKE I HAD GOOD SENSE BUT JUST NOT COMMON SENSE.
LET US LET THE EXPERTS HANDLE THIS SUBJECT!
sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.
Word Origin & History
14c., originally the power of uniting mentally the impressions conveyed by the five physical senses, thus “ordinary understanding, without which one is foolish or insane” (L. sensus communis, Gk. koine aisthesis); meaning “good sense” is from 1726. Also, as an adj., commonsense.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
com•mon-sense, com•mon•sense, adjective
com•mon•sen•si•cal, com•mon•sen•si•ble, adjective
com•mon•sen•si•cal•ly, com•mon•sen•si•bly, adverb
Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” Thus, “common sense” (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, “the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way
WHAT IS COMMON SENSE?
Common sense means paying attention to the obvious. This is not as easy as it sounds. We all have vivid imaginations, and we tend to get lost in our fantasies.
When fantasy replaces common sense, life becomes farcical and even tragic. Life is a series of ordinary events that follow the laws of logic and probability. These ordinary events are indifferent to our fantasies and require the careful, accurate navigation of common sense.
There are two general meanings to the term “common sense” in philosophy. One is a sense that is common to the others, and the other meaning is a sense of things that is common to humanity.
The first meaning was proposed by John Locke in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. This interpretation is based on phenomenological experience. Each of the senses gives input, and then these must be integrated into a single impression. This is the common sense, the sense of things in common between disparate impressions. It is therefore allied with “fancy”, and it is opposed to “judgment”, or the capacity to divide like things into separates. Each of the empiricist philosophers approach the problem of the unification of sense data in one’s own way, giving various names to the operation. However, all believe that there is a sense in the human understanding that sees commonality and does the combining. This is the “common sense”.
Two philosophers are most famous for advocating the other meaning of “common sense”, the view (to state it imprecisely) that common sense beliefs are true and form a foundation for philosophical inquiry: Thomas Reid, G. E. Moore.
The Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid, a contemporary of Hume and the founder of the so-called Scottish School of Common Sense, devotes considerable space in his Inquiry and the Intellectual Powers developing a theory of common sense. While he never gives a definition, per se, he does offer a number of so-called “earmarks” of common sense (which he sometimes calls “principles of common sense”), such as
• principles of common sense are believed universally (with the apparent exceptions of some philosophers and the insane);
• it is appropriate to ridicule the denial of common sense;
• the denial of principles of common sense leads to contradictions.
Of course, each of these is stated and explained by Reid much more carefully than is done here.
The British philosopher G. E. Moore, who did important work in epistemology, ethics, and other fields near the beginning of the twentieth century, is famous for a programmatic essay, “A Defence of Common Sense”. This essay had a profound effect on the methodology of much twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy. In this essay, Moore lists several seemingly very obvious truths, such as “There exists at this time a living human body which is my body.”, “My body has existed continuously on or near the earth, at various distances from or in contact with other existing things, including other living human beings.”, and many other such platitudes. He argues (as Reid did before him) that these propositions are much more obviously true than the premises of many philosophical claims which entail their falsehood (such as the claim that time does not exist, a claim of A. N. Whitehead’s).
Both Reid and Moore, individually, are famous for appealing to common sense to refute skepticism.
Appeal to common sense is characteristic of a general epistemological orientation called epistemological particularism (The appellation comes from Roderick Chisholm.), which orientation is contrasted with epistemological methodism. The particularist gathers a list of propositions that seem obvious and unassailable and then requires consistency with this set of propositions as a condition of adequacy for any abstract philosophical theory. (An entry on the list, however, may be eventually rejected for inconsistency with other, seemingly more secure, entries.) Methodists, on the other hand, begin with a theory of cognition or justification and then apply it to see which of our pre-theoretical beliefs survive. Reid and Moore are paradigmatic particularists, while Descartes and Hume are paradigmatic methodists. Methodist methodology tends toward skepticism, as the rules for acceptable or rational belief tend to be very restrictive (for instance, being incapable of doubt for Descartes, or being constructible entirely from impressions and ideas for Hume). Particularist methodology, on the other hand, tends toward a kind of conservatism, granting perhaps an undue privilege to beliefs we happen to be confident about.
An interesting question is whether the methodologies can be mixed. For instance, it seems impossible to do logic, metaphysics and epistemology without beginning with some assumptions of common sense. However, particularism applied to ethics and politics often seems simply to entrench prejudice and other contingent products of social inculcation. Is there a way to provide a principled distinction between areas of inquiry where reliance on the dictates of common sense is legitimate (because necessary) and areas where it is illegitimate because it is an obstruction to intellectual and practical progress?
The topic of common sense raises interesting and important questions in a field closely related to epistemology and philosophy of language called “meta-philosophy”. Various questions might be raised in a meta-philosophical discussion of common sense: What is common sense? Supposing that a precise characterization of it cannot be given, does that mean appeal to common sense is off-limits in philosophy? Why should we care whether a belief is a matter of common sense or not? Under what circumstances, if any, is it permissible to advocate a view that seems to run contrary to common sense? Should considerations of common sense play any decisive role in philosophy? If not common sense, then should any other similar concept such as “intuition” play such a role? In general, are there “philosophical starting points”, and if so, how might we characterize them? Supposing that there are no beliefs we are willing to hold come what may, are there some we ought to hold more stubbornly at least?
Other uses Edit
Common sense is sometimes regarded as an impediment to abstract and even logical thinking. This is especially the case in mathematics and physics, where human intuition often conflicts with provably correct or experimentally verified results. A definition attributed to Albert Einstein states: “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
“One thing is plain for all men of common sense and common conscience, that here, here in America, is the home of man. After all the deductions which are to be made of for our pitiful politics, which stake every gravest national question on the silly die, whether James or whether Jonathan shall sit in the chair and hold the purse; after all the deduction is made for our frivolities and insanities, there still remains an organic simplicity and liberty, which, when it loses its balance, redresses itself presently, which offers opportunity to the human mind not known in any other region.”
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common
Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how
old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic
red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable
Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn’t always fair; and maybe it WAS my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t
spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not
children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned
but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a 6 year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for
kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash
after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student,
only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for
doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining
their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get
parental consent to administer Calpol, sun lotion or a band-aid to a
student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and
wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments
became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received
better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself
from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman
failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a
little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and
Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son,
He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights; Someone
Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was
gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the
majority and do nothing
Here are the Stellas for the past year:
* SEVENTH PLACE *
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
* SIXTH PLACE *
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California , won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didnt notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbors hubcaps.
* FIFTH PLACE *
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania , who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldnt re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut.Forced to sit for eight, countem, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowners insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this
kind of anguish.
* FOURTH PLACE *
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stellas when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbors beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owners fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the
time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
* THIRD PLACE *
Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, because a jury ordered a
Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
Kara Walton, of Claymont , Delaware , sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 …… oh, yeah, plus dental expenses.
* FIRST PLACE *
This years runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv
Grazinski, of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game,having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway,crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owners manual that she couldnt actually leave the drivers seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her — are you sitting down? — $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit,
just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.