OBW: 'Common Sense'

On the issue, Will, of ‘common sense’, look at the following:

Charles Taylor (1989) Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

What you call ‘common sense’, of course, might just as well be called ‘being rational’…

Being rational and how far we can determine what rational is is, of course, problematic. Moreover, rationality or ‘common sense’ is culture specific and culturally determined. I agree with you, however, that some things are more ‘rational’ or common sensical than others. But, then, the impetus to doubt the issue of what is self evident and common sensical and the proclivity to question these ideas is itself culturally determined.

Thus, these issues are always what our cultures allow us/impel us/inform us to make them. And where a view becomes hegemonic, or as you might have it, ‘common sensical’, it has our consensus.

But consensuses can be challenged. And sometimes overthrown. Thus cultural hegemonies, like political ones, are subject to critique and instability. And they are far from inscrutable.

The ‘common sense’ you speak about is the product of a cultural hegemony which governs your views and expectations. It might one day be overthrown, if an alternative challenges and usurps its position. I doubt this will happen in respect of many cultural assumptions I might make, but it is potentially possible. :wink:

Thanks for the source gav, much appreciated.

I am aware of the potential, latent ethnocentricity in saying ‘common sense is common’. It’s not an ideal term to use. ‘Being rational’ isnt either, although I see what you mean. There are certain ‘common forms of sense data’ that are ‘common’ across cultures, such as a keyboard, a chicken, and how these are distinguished.

It’s where to draw the line, as you point out.

My pleasure. If you do check out the book, which deals with the commn sense issue from a socio-cultural-historical perspective, let me know what you think as I haven’t really looked at it myself.

On the issue of common cultural agreement(s), you’re right, of course, but this argument - powerful as it is - is not failsafe! (As you know! :wink: ).

I found an 89 copy of Taylor’s book (longer than I expected it to be) and found it very informative, thanks for the tip. Methodologically speaking I found it the most useful when discussing, or observing through history, the movements from aporia to something more akin to Sellers stereoscopic view of the manifest image of man (as I relate it, as is all I can do). Something of a bell curve at any rate.

It helps particularly if you are unsure of the causal links (historically speaking) between differing views of ‘man-in-the-world’ and by implication the purpose of Philosophy, and the post-modern suicidical sort of nonsense that is sure to eventually destroy us.

He doesn’t manage to get anywhere with ‘the good’ but then is happy to show that this is unnecessary in the hierarchical sense, particularly when we’re more interested in ‘making our space’ and defining ourselves by the moral distances we put ourselves at from certain ontologies. I’ve been reading it alongside Moore and Austin so I’ve obviously remembered this side of his argumentation more than his work on defining the self which is in itself very impressive. He’s technical without any ‘pleas’ at any rate!! Much appreciated as Austin is enough on his own.

I’ll need to re read it at some point but by no means a bad recommendation.

I’m glad it was of some use.
It’s a very difficult issue and am glad it is you, not I, who are considering it in all its baffling depth!