‘Common’ Sense

English: the log of the political part the com...

English: the log of the political part the common sense party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Common sense is the behavior and basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate. That is how I define ‘common sense’ which is a paraphrase from Wikipedia’s definition. Do you still believe in it? In common sense? Don’t you wonder why I put the word ‘common’ on the title in quotes? That is because I don’t believe in most common things now. Those things or beliefs shared by the majority—which are now mostly false or wrong.

Common sense had become the safe harbor of ignorance. With common sense, we don’t need the facts because we already ‘know the truth’. Our common sense spares us the effort of probing and critical thinking. It has become an excuse for intellectual laziness.

How to Confront Your Inner Enemy
‘The greatest enemy we face – one that is indeed greater than any external threat – is the uncontrolled mind. This is the wisdom of the Buddhist master Shantideva, author of the 700 AD Sanskrit text Bodhisattvacharyāvatāra, or Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life.

‘What is the uncontrolled mind? It is the mental habit that makes you timid when it comes to dealing with certain difficult situations and also allows oppressive and frustrated feelings to build up inside you. As a result, you might “freak out” or “blow up,” becoming your own worst enemy…’
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Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds
A 4-part documentary about awakening, consciousness, and the true nature of reality.

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About DigitalPlato

Poch is a Bookrix author and a freelance writer. He is a frequent contributor to TED Conversations.
This entry was posted in Education, life, personal development, philosophy, psychology, social psychology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to ‘Common’ Sense

  1. DigitalPlato says:

    Once again I’m honored by your intelligent feedback Mr. Steele.
    If many revolutions happened with the idea of common sense of morality, and America was founded on that idea, then it doesn’t matter if the ‘common sense of morality’ idea is true or not. It proved benevolent.

    ‘To question it now would be as revolutionary as it was when it was first proposed for to question ‘common sense’ is to question the philosophical foundation of our entire society.’
    Since that is just what I did, was I right in doing so sir?

    ‘…It forces us to wonder what holds humanity together during these past centuries when so much was ripping apart traditional social relationships and communities.’
    Once again you seem to be defending common sense. If you disagree with my ‘revolutionary’ opinion, I am still grateful for your intelligent reply sir.

    • Part of me wants to defend common sense, but I’m not ideologically attached to it. I at least want to defend the history behind it and the larger debate of ideas it implies. However, I would be the last one to argue the debate is over.

      Recent research shows the complexity of human psychology. There is evidence for and against a common human nature and hence for and against a common sense. Some people argue that conservatives and liberals represent entirely different predispositions, and there are all the other varieties of psychological differences whether divided up by the DSM or the MBTI or Haidt’s moral foundtions.

      My preferrd view is that we do have a common human nature. The differences are mostly issues of environment and development. The potential within human nature is great and manifests differently for each person, but the relevant point is that we all share a basic set of potentals.

      Common sense as one of these potentials is a challenge o talk about. It would require defining our terms more carefully. I’d need to give it more thought in order to offer anything beyond tentative thoughts.

      The reason I decided to comment on this is because i touched upon what I’ve been reading lately. Specifically, the debate between Burke and Paine. They sought to defend their respective views on society and politics by arguing for specific understandings of human nature. The psychological age didn’t begin with Freud but with the Enlightenment and most especially with the Revolutionary Era.

      I’m still reading some books about this history and still processing it. Burke is turning out to be more complex and maybe more inconsistent which makes it hard to pin him down. I sometimes wonder if the differences of views have less to do with ideology and more to do with personality and personal background, just simple biases of thought and perception.

      If there are real fundamental differences, what are they? And what does this say about human nature?

      • DigitalPlato says:

        ‘I sometimes wonder if the differences of views have less to do with ideology and more to do with personality and personal background, just simple biases of thought and perception.’
        If that is your view of the protagonists, I hope you still learn something from their debate sir.

  2. I should add how revolutionary of an idea was ‘common sense’ back then.

    For most of history, the elites never thought about a shared human nature. Many of them assumed the lower classes lacked much if any human nature at all. They were just peasants, laborers and slaves. When Paine and Jefferson proposed that slaves had a human nature common with slaveholders, that was one of the most revolutionary ideas in all of history.

    To take that further by saying there was also a common sense of morality, now that was even more revolutionary. That meant people had the ability to morally judge their supposed superiors. Not only could the elite judge the king, but the commoners could judge the elite. This notion also implied that commoners had as much potential for ruling themselves as did anyone else. Jefferson even went so far as to think that average people were better at this for their thinking was closer to to that common sense.

    Whether or not the idea is absolutely true, the many revolutions wouldn’t have happened without it. America, in particular, was founded on that idea. To question it now would be as revolutionary as it was when it was first proposed for to question ‘common sense’ is to question the philosophical foundation of our entire society.

  3. During the Enlightenment Age and Revolutionary Era, “common sense” meant a moral intuition that was universally shared and inherent to human nature. It was an instinct for justice and liberty. At least some thinkers would have associated it with also an inherent sense of sociability, especially in the Scottish Enlightenment.

    It was an idea of the intellectual elite. They couldn’t have imagined it being used as a replacement for intellectual rigor and intellectual inquiry. Then again, some of them never imagined how these ideas would eventually become applied not just to the intellectual elite but the masses as well.

    The question of whether there is a common sense is dependent on whether there is a common human nature. This idea would have resonated with the ‘commoners’ back during the time of the land enclosure movement which was the privatization of the ‘commons’. Before industrialization, so much of life was shared in common. People didn’t have as strong of a sense of individuality, independence, and a private personal life. The destruction of the commons was earth-shaking for society.

    I think that is why “common sense’ is so attractive. It forces us to wonder what holds humanity together during these past centuries when so much was ripping apart traditional social relationships and communities.

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