Experts Of Common Sense: Philosophers, Laypeople And Democratic Politics

Humana.Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies 28:187-210 (2015)
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Abstract

This paper approaches the question of the relations between laypeople and experts by examining the relations between common sense and philosophy. The analysis of the philosophical discussions of the concept of common sense reveals how it provides democratic politics with an egalitarian foundation, but also indicates how problematic this foundation can be. The egalitarian foundation is revealed by analyzing arguments for the validity of common sense in the writings of Thomas Reid. However, a look at three modern philosophers committed to the link between philosophy and common sense – Descartes, Berkeley and, again, Reid – shows that each assigns very different contents to the concept. This raises the suspicion that modern common sense is not only an egalitarian element, but also a rhetorical tool with which intellectuals attempt to shape the views of the lay masses. The last part suggests that the way out of the predicament is rejecting the supposition that common sense is a unified, homogeneous whole. An alternative is sketched through Antonio Gramsci’s concept of common sense.

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Itay Snir
Yezreel Valley Academic College

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