Common sense is defined as sound judgment derived from experience. It does not require specialized, esoteric knowledge. It is based upon what is believed to be the knowledge held by people, in common with the others. It is the ability to make sensible decisions with good reasoning.
There are two general meanings to the term "common sense" in philosophy. One is a sense that is common to the others, and the other meaning is a sense of things that is common to humanity. The Scottish philosopher, Thomas Reid, a contemporary of Hume, offer a number of so-called "earmarks" of common sense. He also calls them principles of common sense:
1. Principles of common sense are believed universally (except apparently by some philosophers and the insane).
2. It is appropriate to ridicule the denial of common sense.
3. The denial of principles of common sense leads to contradictions.
Commonsense is not as uncommon as is usually proclaimed. It may require a little soul searching to use it. Here is an illustrative example. Kabir lived in Banaras for most of his life. Hindus believe that by dying in Banaras alone deliverance may be obtained. Those who die in Maghar town have no hope of ultimate beatitude. To beat this superstition and using common sense, Kabir moved to Maghar and died there instead.
ਅਬ ਕਹੁ ਰਾਮ ਕਵਨ ਗਤਿ ਮੋਰੀ ॥ਤਜੀ ਲੇ ਬਨਾਰਸ ਮਤਿ ਭਈ ਥੋਰੀ ॥ ਸਗਲ ਜਨਮੁ ਸਿਵ ਪੁਰੀ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਰਤੀ ਬਾਰ ਮਗਹਰਿ ਉਠਿ ਆਇਆ ॥
Ab kaho rām kavan gaṯ morī. Ŧajī lė banāras maṯ bẖa¬ī thorī. Sagal janam siv purī gavā¬i¬ā. Marṯī bār maghar uṯẖ ā¬i¬ā.
Now tell me, God, what will my condition be? I left Benaras - I had little common sense. I wasted my whole life in the city of Benaris; at the time of my death, I moved to Magahar. -----Kabir, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 326-9
Various questions might be raised in a meta-philosophical discussion of common sense: What is common sense? Supposing that a precise characterization of it cannot be given, does that mean appeal to common sense is off-limits in philosophy? Why should we care whether a belief is a matter of common sense or not? Under what circumstances, if any, is it permissible to advocate a view that seems to run contrary to common sense? Should considerations of common sense play any decisive role in philosophy? If not common sense, then should any other similar concept as intuition or intellect or intelligence play such a role?
ਮਤਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ॥ ਤਾ ਮਿਲੀਐ ਜਾ ਲਏ ਮਿਲਾਈ ॥
Maṯ buḏẖ suraṯ nāhī cẖaṯurā¬ī. Ŧā milī¬ai jā la¬ė milā¬ī.
I have neither intelligence, nor wisdom, nor common sense nor cleverness. I meet You, only if You lead me to meet You. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Bilawal, AGGS, Page, 804-6
Common sense is sometimes regarded as an impediment to abstract or logical thinking.
A definition attributed to Albert Einstein states: "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." Physiologically it is a perception through the intellection, apprehension, recognition, understanding, discernment; appreciation and reasoning.
It involves sense, understanding, and reason;
Sense is the mind's acting in the direct cognition either of material objects or of its own mental states. In the first case it is called the outer, in the second the inner sense.
Understanding is the logical faculty, i. e., the power of apprehending under general conceptions, or the power of classifying, arranging, and making deductions.
Reason is the power of apprehending those first or fundamental truths or principles which are the conditions of all real and scientific knowledge, and which control the mind in all its processes of investigation and deduction.
ਸਾਕਤ ਜਾਇ ਨਿਵਹਿ ਗੁਰ ਆਗੈ ਮਨਿ ਖੋਟੇ ਕੂੜਿ ਕੂੜਿਆਰੇ ॥
Sākaṯ jā¬ė niveh gur āgai man kẖotė kūṛ kūṛi¬ārė.
The materialistic cynics go and bow before the Guru, while their minds remain corrupt. This practice is false, totally false. -----Guru Ramdas, Gauri Ki Var, AGGS, Page, 312-8
A little of common sense would reveal that Sikhism is all about internal piety and cleanliness. External show of piety in any form is due to egotistical reasons. After death these items of external show are left behind and only the real profit of virtues (ਖੇਪ) goes with one.
ਅਪਰਾਧੀ ਦੂਣਾ ਨਿਵੈ ਜੋ ਹੰਤਾ ਮਿਰਗਾਹਿ ॥ ਸੀਸਿ ਨਿਵਾਇਐ ਕਿਆ ਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਕੁਸੁਧੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥
Aprāḏẖī ḏūṇā nivai jo hanṯā miragāhi. Sīs nivā¬i¬ai ki¬ā thī¬ai jā riḏai kusuḏẖė jāhi.
The sinner, like the deer hunter, bows down twice as much. But what can be achieved by bowing the head, when the heart is impure? -----Guru Nanak, Asa Di Var, AGGS, Page, 470-15
ਸਚੁ ਵਾਪਾਰੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਵਾਪਾਰੀ ॥ਦਰਗਹ ਨਿਬਹੈ ਖੇਪਤੁਮਾਰੀ ॥
Sacẖ vāpār karahu vāpārī. Ḏargeh nibhai kẖėp ṯumārī.
This is the only merchandise of Truth, worth trading in life so that your business will be considered useful and fruitful in the Court of Akal Purkh.-----Guru Arjan, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 293-6
Commonsense is impartial. It is also civil, unbiased, and responsible. The crowning glory of commonsense lies in our ability to talk with the others in a constructive manner without raising the others’ hackles. Commonsense is achieved by sound and rational thinking. Even in a state of limited consciousness we need to be adequately authentic for the occasion. Commonsense is an affirmation of positive thinking. It avoids dubious manipulation of the others.
Many people have developed a high degree of skill in being logical, informed, trustworthy, and conscientious. To advance our abilities to progress in peace, we need more, not less commonsense.
Commonsense is value oriented. It assumes that adequate, sound, affirmatively rational thinking is better for individuals and for society than irrational thinking. A person using commonsense sticks to the issues at hand and does not attack others’ motives. But a weird use of common sense should be ignored. Human attitude can be refined by daily recitation of Name, meditation, and deliberation on the messages in AGGS.
ਗੁਰੁ ਸੁੰਦਰੁ ਮੋਹਨੁ ਪਾਇ ਕਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਬਾਣੀ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ॥ ਮੇਰੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਸੁਧਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਵਿਸਰਿ ਗਈ ਮਨ ਆਸਾ ਚਿੰਤ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ॥
Gur sunḏar mohan pā¬ė karė har parėm baṇī man māri¬ā. Mėrai hirḏai suḏẖ buḏẖ visar ga¬ī man āsā cẖinṯ visāri¬ā.
I have controlled my mind by reciting the sweet Gurbani in the company of my beloved Guru. My heart has forgotten its common sense and wisdom; my mind has forgotten its hopes and cares. -----Guru Ramdas, Raag Suhi, AGGS, Page, 776-11
Virinder S. Grewal