What is Common Sense?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Landau Roof, Nov 11, 2014.

  1. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

    Hello all. I am starting this thread "inspired" by Paddoboy's resort to 'common sense' as an argument for why 'time' must exist in this commendable and fascinating thread: What is "time". (See Post 76)

    I searched (by title only) for the term 'common sense' just now and saw that it's meaning is taken for granted by our good scientifically minded members.

    Dictionary.com defines the word:
    - independent of specialized knowledge! Interesting!
    Unusually for Dictionary.com, a separate 'British Dictionary' meaning is given as well:
    Fair enough, and rather similar to the earlier definition, but without that 'specialized knowledge' provisio. Hence even more is taken for granted, I think.

    I also had a look at Wikipedia. Not because it's such a font, but to get us all on the same page, so to speak. What's interesting here, please correct me if I am mistaken, is that 'common sense' is also rather a term taken for granted with no precisely clear definition. The first line of the Wiki article: reminds me of the 'what is time' debate again in that those who say time is a real thing seem not to be able to get that there is more to the world (the universe) than human perception of it.

    So can we, working in harmony as always, come up with a better, less presumtuous definition of the term 'common sense'?

    Let's have a go, shall we?
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  3. fogpipe Registered Member

    Thinking about it a little, common sense doesnt seem to mean any more than the consensus.
    Whats commonsense to a roomful of quantum physicists would get laughed at other places.

    I do like Rene Decartes remark about it though:

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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Einstein said:

    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."

    I think that is basically true. It is all the knowledge and heuristics to enable you to live a reasonably happy life on your own. It includes a framework of various folk truisms, value assumptions, rules of thumb, wise sayings, culturally-constructed "facts", linguistic conventions, and practical generalizations based on your own experiences. But the question remains is it all true just because it helps us live our lives. Not necessarily. Truth can often be counterintuitive and even impractical to us. So conformity to common sense probably isn't the best standard by which to decide if a proposition is true or not.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    A lot of people think they lack common sense, mistrust their judgment in practical matters and rely on their friends and neighbors, wish they weren't so gullible or easily misled or subject to temporary confusions.

    Not so much the consensus, in other words, as the sense needing no special argument - the sense aligned with the accepted worldview of the experienced and practical and clearheaded members of one's community. It's an aspect of humble prudence, and a recognition of experience in others as well as oneself.

    Common sense is what tells you the world is flat. It's also what tells you not to shit where you eat - as the residents of New York City found out when they lost their world famous oyster beds - or let your government build and staff torture facilities for interrogation.

    It's the "better" in what you should have known better - because it was available to you, it was common.
  8. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    Thank you.
    Common sense tells me that time is real.
    Common sense is also in a lot of ways refined somewhat the more we learn and gain knowledge. For example, [pinching from iceaura's post] common sense told ancient man the world is flat....Common sense once held that time and space were absolute. [we now know better, which also helps define time as real]

    Along with saying that common sense has me accepting that time is real, I also said that the true nature of time or otherwise is still debatable.

    I have enough common sense to realize that your view of time and common sense may vary from mine, until at least the quandary is officially resolved one way or the other....

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  9. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

    Key word: debatable. I hope we can all keep it friendly though. Let's say discussable.
  10. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Cavemen didn't know what time was but only lived as when they slept, got up and did their chores for the day. They knew it was light and then dark but that was about it. Until
    were invented time wasn't understood very well.

    The Death of Common Sense
    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 lessons as:
    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 are in charge not children).

    His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of an 8 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 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 sun lotion or an aspirin 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 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 assault.

    Common sense finally gave up the will to live, after a women 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
    His son, reason.

    He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers
    I know my rights
    I want my rights
    I want it now
    I’m a victim.

    Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

    This is a modified version of a text that is originally attributed to Lori Borgman.

    What do you think about this reading?
    Do you think Common Sense really has died?

  11. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    I highly doubt that. Common sense tells me they did know what time was.
  12. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Something that everyone should know.
  13. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Arriving at the correct conclusion by inferring from common knowledge, as done by the majority of people.
  14. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    You're describing common knowledge.
  15. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    What's so diffrent between lettuce and cabbage? Different taste, same look.
  16. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Seriously? They are not even in the same order!
    It's like asking: "What's the big difference between a blue whale and a camel?"
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I view common sense as what I would expect the common person to conclude given the common facts available.
    If the fact is not commonly known, it would not necessarily be considered in reaching the common conclusion.
  18. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member


    What? You mean they had some form of time telling machine? The only thing they knew was it was day or night and they didn't name those either.
  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    So you think that they wouldn't be able to distinguish whether it has been daylight for a short while or a long while? If they blinked during daylight would they have known that it was not the same moment as previously?
    Being able to tell the passage of time is just a matter of experience... and hunting would tell them that: it takes time to stalk a prey, to run a distance, to lead the beast when you throw your spear so that the two meet at the right spot etc.
    It would not take too much experience to be able to tell the time of day from natural sundials - the height of the sun in the sky etc. Or do you think that night took cavemen by surprise every day/night?
    They may not have labelled it, but to say they didn't know what time was, or at least the practical implications of it, I find odd.
    Unless we're talking about different things here?
  20. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    What about the brain as a time telling machine? Cavemen were no different from us. I take it you notice the passage of time without a clock ..
  21. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Cave people weren't aware of the EX

    Cavepeople didn't know the EXACT time but, as I said , did know day and night but to them hours and minutes weren't known.
  22. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member


    True I do notice that the sun is rising and moving through the sky but have no EXACT time telling.
  23. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Moving the goalposts.

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