Common Sense
Posted: 20 October 2008 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  13
Joined  2007-07-14

After checking the Big List and General Discussions, I find no definition here for “common sense.” My less-than-thorough Pocket OED defines it simply as “sound practical sense” while Wikipedia predictably sent me off on a tear chasing philosophical and psychological tails.  To bring this into sharper focus, I’m not at all certain that Easterners and Westerners don’t see reality differently, i.e., Westerners, I think, tend to see more “black-and-white” whereas Easterners see in a more “wholistic” paradigm (which I’ve written about in my forever-in-draft memoir when attempting to differentiate “mindsets” of conventionalists and progressives in the geopolitical arena, and which I also surface in an article I posted to G-Knol entitled “SOF Mafia").  I further think this is a matter of both genetic predisposition and, subsequently, culture.

The question has again surfaced for me via Howard Gardner, Ph.D. in his “Multiple Intelligences” theory, specifically in the context of his “Logical-Mathematical Intelligence” particulate.  I see a difference between basic/fundamental “logic” (thus not to be confused with advanced forms such as found among philosophers, and which Gardner ultimately accedes as an example of “Existential Intelligence” per his ‘06 revision) and mathematical abilities, finding the first more at “common sense” than to specific “mathematical” applications.  Applying Gardner’s sense of “searchlight” (general) v. “laser” (focused) modalities, my intention here is to see “common sense” as searchlight where more refined application would be seen as laser.


Posted: 20 October 2008 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

Regardless of Dr Gardner and his theories (too late in the day for philosophy), I’d be interested to know when this much-abused term was first recorded.

Posted: 20 October 2008 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  291
Joined  2007-02-17

The OED entry:

1. An ‘internal’ sense which was regarded as the common bond or centre of the five senses, in which the various impressions received were reduced to the unity of a common consciousness. Obs.

[Cf. 1398-1509 common wit s.v. COMMON a. 21.] 1543 TRAHERON Vigo’s Chirurg. I. ii. 3 They [eyes] were ordeyned of nature in the former part [of the head]..that they might carye visible thinges to ye commune sens. 1606 L. BRYSKETT Civ. Life 123 Which common sense, is a power or facultie of the sensitiue soule..and is therefore called common, because it receiueth commonly the formes or images which the exteriour senses present vnto it, and hath power to distinguish the one from the other. 1621 BURTON Anat. Mel. I. i. II. vii, Inner Senses are three in number, so called, because they be within the brain-pan, as Common Sense, Phantasie, Memory..This Common sense is the Judge or Moderator of the rest, by whom we discern all differences of objects. Ibid. III. xiii, The external senses and the common sense considered together are like a circle with five lines drawn from the circumference to the centre. 1842 SIR W. HAMILTON in Reid’s Wks. (1872) II. 756/2 note, Common Sense [Greek characters I can’t reproduce here, but which would be transliterated as ‘koine aisthesis’] was employed by Aristotle to denote the faculty in which the various reports of the several senses are reduced to the unity of a common apperception.

And from the entry referred to, on ‘common wit’ (I’ve replaced the thorns with ‘th’ because of the limitations of my laptop):

1398 TREVISA Barth. De P.R. VI. xxv. (Tollem. MS.), the lyme of the *comyn wit [organum sensus communis] is bounde. The whiche lyme is centrum and middel of all the parties. 1509 HAWES Past. Pleas. XXIV. ii, These are the v. wyttes..Fyrst, commyn wytte, and than ymaginacyon, Fantasy, and estymacyon truely, And memory.

Posted: 20 October 2008 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  114
Joined  2008-04-24

Common sense ain’t so common.

Will Rogers, humourist. Apparently.

Posted: 21 October 2008 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  3411
Joined  2007-01-29

Thanks, kurwamac, for rescuing this thread from the windy heights of metaphysics and bringing it down to lexicographical earth.

Posted: 21 October 2008 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Total Posts:  807
Joined  2007-06-20
astal - 20 October 2008 11:18 AM

Common sense ain’t so common.

Will Rogers, humourist. Apparently.

Just to show there ain’t no new jokes, the OED’s first mention of “common sense” with the meaning of “general sagacity” is the identical take on the idea to Rogers, from the essayist Nicholas Amhurst:

1726 AMHERST Terræ Fil. xx. 100 There is not (said a shrewd wag) a more uncommon thing in the world than common sense..

However, Bayard, in answer, I think, to your question, the first use of the expression to mean “the general sense, feeling, or judgement of mankind, or of a community”, according to the OED, is Spencer in the Faerie Queen in 1596 (IV. x. 2): T"hat all the cares and evill which they meet May..seeme gainst common sence to them most sweet.”

‹‹ Leave us face it      Top banana ››