I wrote a blog a few months ago where I said that something was common sense. Of course, as everyone didn’t necessarily agree, it made me wonder about what is common sense?

I looked up a few definitions this morning, and most of them were pretty similar. I happened to like the one offered up by thefreedictionary.com.

sound judgement not based on specialized knowledge

or Merriam-Webster.com

sound and prudent judgement based on a simple perception of the situation or facts

But, as in all things, as one brings there own perceptions to any situation, does that mean that common sense isn’t all that common?

I’m a college educated, east coast urbanite who lives in an apartment with a handyman, and relies on mass transit. What is common sense to me might be very different from someone with advanced degrees who lives in a rural area, has acres of land and drives a big truck or a high school graduate from a suburb living in a house and driving a sports car…As we are all different, is the commonality of being human enough?

Because I am beginning to wonder…

I was car shopping with my Mom the other day. She prefers a smallish car so I asked her what size her other car was. She said 80 inches. Now to me, it’s common sense that a standard sedan is longer than 80 inches…but to my high school educated Mother, not so much. She argued with me that she was positive that her car was 80 inches…Positive until I asked the sales guy and he said that absolutely no way was her 13 year old Volvo S6 80 inches long. To be fair, my double advance degreed husband stated that he might not actively realize that a standard car can’t be 80 inches. So am I confusing logic with common sense?

How do you define common sense?

Is there a difference between logic and common sense?

Do you think that everyone should just be able to understand certain concepts and act accordingly?

Or in today’s society, is there really no such thing as common sense?

How do you define common sense and give me an example. I want to see if what we think of as common sense passes the universonality test…

You may begin:

47 thoughts on “Common Sense

  1. Common sense: there’s a car coming, I’ll wait to cross. Logic: I probably shouldn’t try to cross the street right now because that car appears to be coming at a velocity that will surely mean an impact to my body thus causing great physical harm and even possibly death

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  2. Good topic for discussion. It harks back to your recent disagreement with your daughter about a quote: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” I agree with your emphasis on perspective. As individuals, we do have to rely on our own common sense as a sort of protection. Having rarely ridden on a subway, I couldn’t understand why the natives all had their cellphones in their hands on the subway in Buenos Aires–until my husband and I both had our stolen at the same time. The other people on the subway were sympathetic, but I’m sure some of them thought we didn’t have a “lick of common sense” to carry our phones “securely” in our pockets.

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  3. I see common sense as that part of my worldview that I don’t (or won’t) question and assume other rational people would agree with me (even if they don’t). Logic might help lead me to contradictions which would force me to question my worldview (common sense), but sometimes I won’t let it.

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  4. A phrase I heard when I was younger was “college education but no common sense,” suggesting that while the person was smart they were making dumb choices. Of course we know that not all people who go to college are automatically smart. And are “street smarts” the same thing as common sense or is that another concept? You would think that everyone’s common sense would be the same but I don’t think it is. Your examples are quite right.

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  5. I’ll give you an opposite example: my son’s first week at college. He’s super smart, was valedictorian, won about every award that was out there. He called me from Costco. He said, “I bought top ramen, milk, cereal, everything to stock up my dorm room. How do I get it home on my bike?”

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  6. Hmmm, great topic. I feel common sense is usually associated with the phrase “what the Hell were they thinking?” or “not enough sense to come in out of the rain.” There is no connection between common sense, logic, or intelligence/education level. I associate it closely with instinct (self-preservation being the big one).

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      1. The 80” thing is more along the lines of experience. My wife has no idea how long a car is. I doubt she knows 80” is only 6.5”ish (guess I’m sleeping on the couch tonight). In this case the issue is experience and logic.

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  7. In my opinion, common sense is very subjective and depends on one’s frame of reference and breadth of knowledge. My mother-in-law had a farm and grew up poor so what was common sense to her wasn’t to me in my more urban and privileged world.

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  8. I think the more granule you go the harder it is to “find” common ground on common sense. Common sense, the sky is blue, fire is hot to touch, snow is cold, sleep is necessary, etc. Larger more universal concepts, i think work, and the smaller you go, common sense will begin to falter, I think. An example of this might be, if you are tired, sleep. Well, that is “common sense” yet not everyone has the luxury of sleeping when tired. If we make an assumption based on “common sense” it might not fit the context. That’s what I got.

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  9. Common sense would seem to mean that it’s COMMON for others (in other words, shared amongst most/many) to understand something. Like it’s common sense that stepping into a street without looking could result in harm. Maybe the issue is that certain things shouldn’t be considered “common sense,” and instead, more of an opinion?

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  10. I think you’re talking about common knowledge, and I come from an academic perspective. When academics write, they have to cite anything that’s not common knowledge. I think the 80 inch car thing is an example.

    Common sense is don’t leave your windows open during a thunderstorm or something like that.

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    1. My daughter said the same thing when she writes papers… I’m thinking of logic bs common sense I think…to me a 6 foot person is 72 inches…a regular car is longer than that, especially if it has 4 doors

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I know some people who are extremely intelligent but have absolutely no “common sense.” Some of the things they do leave me shaking my head in disbelief on how they came to the decision/action they did. Interesting question you pose. Fortunate is the person who has high intelligence, common sense AND street smarts. That person is unstoppable!

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