What is Common Sense?

Took me longer than usual to sit down and write this one out for several reasons. IMG_20170601_191439Mainly all of them due to laziness but also due to lack of content. Last Thursday kicked off our annual summer of music festivals here in town. Each Thursday from June to August, local musicians and groups preform in the pavilion in the center of town for the evening. A few hundred people usually show up and fill the entire square with lawn chairs and relax. Most of the time the music is mediocre and the few in charge of the sound seem to have an obsession with the lower audible frequencies resulting in hours of resonance and reverb overpowering the music. But everyone, including myself, have an enjoyable time catching up with familiar faces and taking in the energy of the crowd. It’s a bit of a love hate situation. But in a small town that seemingly falls asleep each summer, you take every bit of excitement that comes your way.

A few days later, I found myself having a debate with myself  at work on the subject of “What is Common Sense”? IMG_20170605_111041When you work with the general public (retail, customer service, etc), you often are met with situations and debacles from people who seemingly have no common sense. I’ll have to write down some of the weird and stupid questions/ actions that people pule out for their hats while Im working. Feel free to chime in on this one as I would love to hear your input on the matter since I still have yet to come to a full conclusion.  Now on Wikipedia, there is a big philosophical article on common sense that you can read yourself, but i’ve come to think of it as an equation of some sort. My first question was “what is it”? My answer was that, at its roots, common sense is “ones ability for reasonable deduction from their general knowledge”. A fitting example is asking what color the sky is? It’s obviously blue. But the answer to why the sky is blue is not common sense because it’s not general knowledge. Even though you might have learned it in school, it’s not knowledge that is usually retained by many. Keep in mind that people who are more intelligence in other fields tend to think that their own general knowledge is the low bar for common sense. This leads me to the next section of my understanding of what common sense is.

Because you can’t expect everyone to have the same level of general knowledge, common sense must be measurable in some way. IMG_20170605_111125You don’t expect an 8 year old to have the same level of general knowledge as a 40 year old, do you? So now it turns into something like Common Sense = Ability for reasonable deduction + General knowledge. General Knowledge= Age+ Experience. Experience= Time spent with situation/ fields. Now for simple situations, like crossing the street when there is traffic, this can all be boiled down to simply. Reasonable deduction says, is the car moving towards you fast? Yes. Is the car close enough that if you step out, you will or will come close to being intercepted? Yes. Should you cross the street? No. But what if your answer to cross the street was yes? You probably don’t have much common sense. But what if you were a 4 or 6 year old and you don’t have a logical grasp on traffic yet? Is that lack of common sense? No. You lack both age and experience and thus your bar of common sense of drastically lower. If 5 year old you stepped out in front of traffic, you simply don’t know better. If 15 year old you stepped out in front of traffic expecting to not get hit, then you have very little common sense.

IMG_20170528_133042Now this even further varies when it comes to different fields. If you work in architecture or construction, then you are expected to have different level of common sense to that field. You shouldn’t expect someone who isn’t familiar to know what a load bearing structure looks like or that it functions differently from the frame structure nor would you expect an NBA player to understand the difference between HTML5 and PHP but if you work in networking then you should. Anyways I hope you stayed with me and I hope I made any sense at all.  It was hard for me to put this into words in the first place. If it was at all confusing or you have input on the matter then feel free to respond. Im still dissecting this myself and having other views makes a huge difference.


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