I know, it’s been a long time, but I’ve been working on giving talks, creating podcasts, and writing a new book, a novel this time. Meanwhile, please download a podcast episode or two! Just type my name into your favorite podcast app… Or go to…Podcasts…
The following is the first part of the first podcast, called “What’s the Matter with Common Sense”…
Hi! This is Larry Gottlieb, and the title of this talk is, “What’s the Matter with Common Sense?” And again, what we’re up to here is inquiring into what it is to be a human being.
Today I want to speak with you about what you know. Actually, about what everybody knows. I’m going to refer to that with the term “common sense”.
When we talk about common sense, we most often speculate on whether somebody else has it. And sometimes, to proclaim the correctness of our ideas about something, we use the phrase “That’s just common sense”!
But for the next few minutes, let’s talk about what common sense really is and what role or roles it plays in our lives.
The Roles of Common Sense
Another way to refer to common sense is, “what everybody knows”. We are very comfortable with “that which everybody knows”. We have spent our lives learning to master what are often considered best practices for dealing with that body of knowledge.
And by this time, most of us think of ourselves as having good common sense. As we have lived our lives, we have compiled a virtual guidebook of rules about how to respond to various situations. These rules constitute efforts to bring our past experiences to bear on making good choices in the present.
And we all know people whom we think of as having common sense. They’re regular guys or gals who have done well for themselves. They’ve led good lives and had good careers, they have good families, and the kids turned out great. And because of these successes we consider them to have common sense regarding the choices they make in their lives.
Is there something the matter with that??
Well, look… it’s not our purpose here to belittle common sense. It comes in very handy in our every-day lives. But I intend to show that when it comes to realizing our dreams, common sense is the limiting factor.
Ok, what is common sense, anyway? Here’s one definition:
“Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that are shared by, or are common to, nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without need for debate.”
We don’t debate common-sense ideas, these things that are shared by or common to nearly all people. It never occurs to us to debate them. They’re a “given”. “Everybody knows that”, we exclaim!
While we don’t debate common sense, we do use it as a basis to examine new ideas, often without being aware that we’re doing that. If somebody comes up to you and says something that perhaps you haven’t thought about before, you’re going to listen to them through the filter of common sense, or more specifically whatever you think is common sense. If it fits in some way with what you already know, no problem. You nod your head, or not(!), but essentially you say to yourself, “Yeah, that makes sense. It’s worth considering, even if I wind up rejecting the idea”.
But if this new thought doesn’t fit somehow with what we already know, if it’s incompatible in some way with common sense, we regard it with suspicion or we dismiss it outright. So common sense acts like a filter, or a kind of container, that allows us to have a consistent world view.
If you’d like to continue, please download the podcast on Common Sense wherever you get your podcasts. Or, you can stream it from:
Till next time…