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September 1, 2022

Essay On Common Sense | Suitable for all class students

essay on common sense

Common sense essay

Introduction: Common sense, it has been said, is the most uncommon thing in the world. Common sense is only the combination of experience with intelligence. It is a rare commodity that is not exactly the mother or native wit. This is only a clever paradox which it seems to instinctively show at unexpected moments.

Practical wisdom: Common sense is practical wisdom. So we often look upon common sense as a blind instinct. It is a quality that neither wealth nor learning can confer on a man. It is supposed to come as a gift from above, and that one is born with, – a sharp insight into matters and promptitude that helps us much In the practical field of work. Education or book-learning, no doubt, makes us sophisticated but does not engender common sense.

Somebody called Mr, Pickwick (of Charles Dickens) from the road; Pickwick looked upwards at the sky. Albert Einstein was a very great scientist. But he made two holes in the cage – one big and the other small — so that his two cats, one big and the other very small (mother and the young one / kitten), may come out through the two respective holes. Does he lack common sense? For this reason, common sense is often spoken of like a mystery.

The learned man may be a wonderful theorist, a man of many devices. There may not be any doubt about his shrewd intelligence in the abstract. But when faced with a situation, he is utterly lost. He is like the wise man of Sukumar Roy who turns over the pages of his book of recipes in vain for the right remedy that can save him from the angry bull.

But if instead of being bookish, he acts on wisdom, tested and proved by experience, he can almost unerringly hit upon the proper line. That is a common sense, the ability to use the experience to meet immediate circumstances. It is practical wisdom applied to common life.

Don’t Forget to Check: Essay in English

Importance: Common sense is something different from a laborious process of reasoning. It implies swift decision, a capacity to do the right thing without jumbling. An intelligent man, when guided by a wide experience of life, develops a spontaneous reflex power to act quickly and sensibly in any situation.

It must not be thought, however, that common sense rules out the higher faculty of the mind. On the contrary, where it goes hand in hand with common sense, it amounts to genius. But if a man is to have only one sense, let him, by all means, have common sense: For without common sense, he is of no use at all. He may know how to do the job, but to be successful he must apply that knowledge with sure effect; tact is the gift of common sense and is more important than talent.

Common sense is a gift that a prince has in common with a peasant. A pampered child of fortune is oftener than not unrealistic in his approach to life’s problems. Naturally, he misses that success. But the man of experience knows what he can reasonably expect from life, and his common sense works without fail. His judgment remains clear and is not lost or blurred in the midst of danger.

In the practical affairs of life, the value of common sense is great indeed. It helps one to make the most of one’s knowledge and experience. Where book-learning confuses and misleads, common sense may stand him in good stead. Because it is born of experience; it comes easily to the common man who works with his own hands.

Uncommon sense: An extraordinary sense of anything not found in all and sundry in general is an uncommon sense. Many can learn many things from this. But in fact, many a time, common sense becomes uncommon and vice-versa.

Conclusion: The uncommon never escapes the shrewd judgment of common sense. The extra-ordinary principle has to submit ultimately to the test of common sense. Common sense is what makes for permanence, continuity and sweeps away much that is merely eccentric and out of the way. It governs the day-to Life of a man.

FAQ’s of Essay On Common Sense

What is common sense.

Common sense is only the combination of experience with intelligence.

What is the value of common sense?

It helps one to make the most of one's knowledge and experience. Where book-learning confuses and misleads, common sense may stand him in good stead.

What are examples of common sense?

Albert Einstein was a very great scientist. But he made two holes in the cage – one big and the other small – so that his two cats, one big and the other very small may come out through the two respective holes

common sense meaning essay

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common sense meaning essay

The Philosophers' Magazine

Philosophy and Common Sense 1: What Is Common Sense?

Sebastian Sunday-Grève and Timothy Williamson discuss the question of where philosophy starts and the idea of philosophy as a non-natural science

Common Sense or Curiosity?

Sebastian Sunday-Grève

Timothy Williamson tells a story of the naturalness of philosophy -- that is, of how natural it is to engage in doing philosophy. This is an important kind of story to tell, because philosophy tends to seem unnatural to many people, and hence their opinion of it is rather low. It is of course not very surprising that they can easily have this impression, given some of the claims typically made by philosophers, such as that nothing ever changes (Parmenides), that everything constantly changes (Heraclitus) or that “the nothing noths” (Heidegger). Perhaps Williamson’s own view that vagueness is a form of ignorance is another example, insofar as it entails that one hair can make the difference between being bald and being not bald.

Be that as it may, the story Williamson tells is compelling. Part of the reason why it is compelling is that when he tells it he is practising what he preaches. By developing his account of the naturalness of philosophy in this way, Williamson is of course engaged in doing philosophy himself, and he manages to do this bit of philosophy in exactly the way that he says should be possible. Williamson argues that all it takes for an individual in suitable circumstances to engage in doing philosophy is curiosity and common sense . And in attempting to show this, he does indeed appear to be relying on nothing but these two basic ingredients. Thus, his account appears to be doubly demonstrated: the way in which he presents its general claims appears at the same time to constitute an instantiation of them.

To be sure, the apparent reliance on nothing but his own common sense and curiosity in presenting the account must be regarded as a considerable feat, even if Williamson is right that philosophy normally requires no more than that. Developing an account of the cognitive basis required for an individual to engage in doing philosophy is not itself the sort of thing that philosophy starts with for an individual. On the contrary, it is a rather more advanced step: developing a plausible account of the matter and presenting it in a clear and precise fashion, as Williamson has done, is no easy task for even the most experienced philosophers.

Williamson begins by telling us that a natural answer to the question of where philosophy starts is “common sense”. He then offers various explanations of what he takes common sense to be, which can be summed up by the following three equations:

Common-sense knowledge = widely shared knowledge

Common-sense belief = widely shared belief

Common-sense cognitive methods = widely shared cognitive methods

But looking at these three equations has made me wonder why the notion of common sense is even employed. In this context, “widely shared” appears to mean just the same as “common”. Thus, it seems it might have been the better choice to speak simply of common knowledge, common belief and common cognitive methods instead of common- sense knowledge, common- sense belief and so on.

While trying to figure this out, I thought about how “common sense” is typically translated into German, namely as gesunder Menschenverstand , literally “healthy human reason”. Williamson does not, however, want to restrict common sense to humans. In fact, he argues that common sense and curiosity, the only two requirements he has mentioned for getting philosophy started, can also be found in non-human animals. So can non-human animals perhaps engage in doing philosophy too? Where would Williamson draw the line? And how? Is it perhaps a matter of degree of common sense or curiosity, or is there something else to the cognitive basis required for philosophy (such as language, for example, which he says “enables us to construct more abstract questions, to become curious about more abstract matters”)?

The same consideration applies to curiosity. If, however, Williamson’s intention is indeed to give nothing but a natural answer to the question of where philosophy starts, in order to suit his narrative, then will it not perhaps be the case that curiosity could serve equally well as the sole driver of the story? That is, not as an answer to the question of what more is required for philosophy, in addition to common sense, but as a better answer instead of this first one? For does not curiosity, on Williamson’s plausible definition of it as an appetite for knowledge, entail enough of that which he wishes to pick out by “common sense”? After all, you can only have an appetite for knowledge, if you have at least some knowledge already. And, as regards common-sense cognitive methods, it can perhaps be granted that an individual with an appetite for knowledge is normally capable of acquiring new knowledge. So, it seems, the story might perhaps be told even better simply in terms of curiosity.

Common Sense, Curiosity, and Language

Timothy Williamson

In “Common Sense or Curiosity?”, Sebastian Sunday-Grève asks whether common sense is needed to get into philosophy: why isn’t curiosity, understood as the appetite for knowledge, enough?

Cats and dogs are curious, as are animals of many other species, including humans. The appetite for knowledge has an obvious evolutionary explanation. Knowledge of your environment comes in useful in all sorts of ways. You need to know where you can get food or drink, you need to know about potential sexual partners. Unsurprisingly, anything new tends to excite curiosity, because it may indicate danger or opportunity. What made that unfamiliar smell?

Of course, an appetite for knowledge enhances your evolutionary fitness only if you are capable of satisfying that appetite. Thus we can expect curiosity to be accompanied by a capacity for acquiring knowledge. Sebastian goes further: “you can only have an appetite for knowledge, if you have at least some knowledge already.” That is not automatic. After all, an animal can have an innate appetite for sex before it has ever had sex, otherwise it might never get started. But animals typically get a stream of knowledge of their current environment through their senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, … – whenever they are awake, so if you have an innate appetite for knowledge, you probably have lots of knowledge already. Moreover, you presumably acquired most or all of that knowledge in ways which you have in common with other members of your species. Those ways are common-sense cognitive methods in my sense. If you belong to a social species, as you do, much of your local knowledge is probably shared with other members of your group. That is common-sense knowledge in my sense.

But then, if curiosity and common sense suffice for getting into philosophy, we face Sebastian’s question: “can non-human animals perhaps engage in doing philosophy too?” One would have to be rather besotted with one’s cat or dog to think that it has philosophical thoughts. Non-human animals sometimes look wise – owls famously do – but that is surely our projection. Some people look wise until they start talking. That brings us to the question of language.

Knowledge without language is possible. If a cat didn’t know where a mouse was, she couldn’t catch it. In knowing where it is, she knows something like: it’s there . She has that knowledge while unable to put it in the English words “It’s there”, or any other words. We speakers of a language use our words to describe what the cat knows, but the cat can know it without describing her knowledge. Languageless animals may even have some general knowledge, for example about which types of plant are good to eat.

Curiosity may involve asking oneself questions. If the mouse disappears, the cat may wonder where it has gone; we can describe her as asking herself: where’s it gone? She can do that without using the English words “Where’s it gone?”, or any other words. Presumably, if the cat were not wondering where the mouse has gone, she would not be looking around for it. Perhaps a pig can even wonder whether some newly encountered type of thing is good to eat.

Still, there are limits. It’s not that cats and dogs aren’t curious enough to ask themselves philosophical questions; they seem pretty much as curiosity-driven as humans are. Rather, the point is that, whatever form thinking takes in languageless animals, its content seems to be very closely related to sense perception and action, far more closely than a philosophical question would be. For example, if the cat asks where’s it gone? , her ability to do so presumably depends on her capacities for spatially organised perception and action, but those capacities do not enable her to ask the abstract question “What is space?”.

Of course, language too may well have originated in ways closely related to sense perception and action. Linguistic communication still depends on hearing, when we listen to what someone says, on sight, when we read what they write, and on touch in the case of braille. Still, what a word means normally doesn’t depend on its sound, and once we have a language, we can manipulate its words to form all sorts of new combinations, with meanings which might never have occurred to us otherwise. In that way, you understand the sentences making up this article, even though you have never encountered most of them before.

We can also appreciate the dependence of philosophy on language by considering how humans do philosophy. When we talk about what past philosophers achieved, we are talking almost entirely about what they achieved in their writings . Although Socrates famously did not write philosophy, he did it in conversation instead. In all these cases, what they achieved was achieved in language. Some philosophy books also have diagrams, or pictures, or logic formulas, which may be important to the book’s overall argument, but their philosophical significance still depends on the surrounding text. Anyway, languageless animals do not use diagrams, or pictures, or logic formulas. A few contemporary philosophers claim to have made contributions to philosophy in the form of dance , but again it is hard to see how a dance could have philosophical significance except in ways which depend on an associated verbal discourse.

A more radical challenge might come from a mystic, who claims to have had a languageless experience of reality which constitutes a great philosophical insight. If the experience inspires a philosophical book, we can judge the book rather than the experience. But a hard-line mystic might claim that the languageless experience itself, not anything it inspired, is the real philosophical achievement. Maybe cats, dogs, pigs, or owls have had similar languageless experiences.

One problem with the mystic’s claim is that philosophy is not a private enterprise. It is carried on from generation to generation of philosophers, teachers and students, authors and readers, working together in communities, discussing and arguing with each other. An individual’s experience, as opposed to a verbal description of it, cannot be passed down from generation to generation. What might be passed on is a recipe for having an experience of that type, by taking drugs, or practising meditation techniques, or whatever. But that leaves another problem. If it is claimed to be a languageless experience of reality , is reality indeed the way the experience presents it as being? Even if anyone who has an experience of that type is utterly convinced at the time that reality is that way, that does not mean that the conviction is infallible; the drugs or meditation techniques might just be a way of inducing a convincing hallucination. The more important the “insight” would be if right, the more important it is to test whether it is right.

Can words express how reality is mystically experienced as being? If they can, we have claims in words which need to be tested. But if we are told that words cannot express how reality is mystically experienced as being, and that the only way of testing the great insight is by having the experience oneself, we should start to suspect a scam . If an insight is genuinely important, it is so because it has lots of significant consequences, which make some sort of difference and so can be independently tested. If we are allowed no way to question the veracity of the mystical experience, we are falling victim to some kind of intellectual authoritarianism, quite alien to the traditional spirit of philosophy.

Alternatively, mystics might avoid the claim that the mystical experience is of reality , and say that it is just a great experience. If they add that having the experience is good for your mental health, that claim too should be tested. However, they might just say that having the experience is good in itself, irrespective of consequences. Fine; but how is having a great experience supposed to be relevant to philosophy? It would be relevant if philosophy were just a matter of having a good time, in a spiritual sort of way, but that is an utterly impoverished and self-indulgent conception of philosophy.

As it has more traditionally been understood, philosophy is an attempt to answer very general questions about the nature and structure of reality (which includes the attempt itself), about how things are (which includes how they appear). Because the attempt is serious, answers given to those questions cannot simply be taken on trust; no guru has the last word. They must be tested seriously by other philosophers, against any relevant evidence. The strengths and weaknesses of alternative answers must be identified, discussed, and compared. Once philosophy is understood that way, it is obviously out of reach for creatures with no well-developed language for communication.

None of this means that philosophy must be about language. Its medium is language, extended by diagrams, pictures, formulas, and so on, but physics has more or less the same medium, yet physics is not about language. Philosophy is about reality much more generally, of which language is just a small part. But since philosophy is mainly done in language, philosophers have to be careful and critical in their use of language, otherwise they may be misled by its subtle complications. In ordinary language, valid arguments and invalid arguments can easily look very like each other; sometimes we can tell them apart only by analysing the fine structure of our premises and conclusions.

That account may sound far from the natural beginning of philosophy in curiosity and common sense. But once we express our curiosity by asking questions in common language, and try to answer them by the methods of common sense, including critical discussion, iterating that process can gradually refine what we are doing, taking us towards the most sophisticated methods of philosophy.

This is an edited version of the discussion that followed a recent lecture by Timothy Williamson at Peking University. A recording of the lecture is available here .

Sebastian Sunday-Grève is a German philosopher, who was educated at Oxford and is living in Beijing, where he works as an assistant professor at Peking University. He is a member of the Chinese Institute of Foreign Philosophy and, in 2020–21, a Fellow of the Berggruen China Research Center, where he works on the philosophy of artificial intelligence .

Timothy Williamson is the Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford and a Visiting Professor at Yale. His recent books include Philosophical Method: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2020) and an enlarged edition of The Philosophy of Philosophy (Wiley, 2021). In addition to logic, he works on epistemology, metaphysics and the philosophy of language.

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common sense

Definition of common sense

  • discreetness
  • gumption [ chiefly dialect ]
  • horse sense
  • levelheadedness
  • nous [ chiefly British ]
  • sensibleness

sense , common sense , judgment , wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions.

sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence.

common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge.

judgment implies sense tempered and refined by experience, training, and maturity.

wisdom implies sense and judgment far above average.

Examples of common sense in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'common sense.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

1646, in the meaning defined above

Dictionary Entries Near common sense

common seal

commonsense realism

Cite this Entry

“Common sense.” Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of common sense, more from merriam-webster on common sense.

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Christopher Dwyer Ph.D.


The problem with common sense, thinking critically about the long-standing concept of "common sense.".

Posted September 28, 2023 | Reviewed by Tyler Woods

In my youth, I came to understand the term "common sense" as implying that though you may not have extensive knowledge about a topic or even extensive skill in reasoning, you likely have enough of both to act appropriately in context (i.e., to "know better").

The first time I encountered the term, in a research context, was during my work on assessing credibility—a core aspect of the critical thinking skill of evaluation. The literature indicates that common belief and/or common sense statements (depending on the context in which they arise) are problematic in terms of being a credible source of information because there are no guarantees regarding their original source. Is the common sense based on experience? Anecdotal evidence? Flawed reasoning? Or actual research? And why is it common? It’s a bit of a lottery in that respect.

Common sense is common because many people are perceived to believe it. The problem is, that doesn't make it true. "Looks like a duck, walks like a duck" is common sense, sure, but consider "looks like a gator, walks like a gator." Lots of people confuse alligators and crocodiles. Why do so many people misspell "lose" as "loose"? Why do so many people say "literally" when they mean "figuratively"? 'Common' isn't a good enough criterion to make something true.

One of my favourite examples is that of seeing a couple walking down the street holding hands, where one person is rather attractive and the other is—well, let’s just say they’re "punching above their weight class". A common belief is that "opposites attract" and so we might apply that 'knowledge' through common sense because it’s relevant to the context and is a plausible explanation for the pair. However, research indicates that opposites do not attract. Coincidentally, it’s the opposite— similarity is a very strong predictor of attraction . As it turns out, the common sense statement, "birds of a feather flock together" is much more accurate. Of course, that information doesn’t fit the context here and so, had we used that, we’d still be left with a level of uncertainty regarding why these people are together. With that, it wouldn’t take too long to figure it out, had we spent a bit more time reflecting on it (e.g., the two are similar in respects other than physical attractiveness , hence the mutual attraction). But then, why would we bother? We have better things about which to think critically.

Not only can common sense be in opposition to research, it can be in opposition to other forms of common sense. Did you ever have a friend growing up whose household was run differently from yours (e.g., different rules and routines)? For example, in one friend's house, we could play in their parents' bedroom. Having never thought about the prospect in my own house, I figured it was common. When that friend came to visit my house and we went into all the rooms to play—including my parents’ room—I got yelled at: "You don’t bring friends into our bedroom! Where’s your common sense?" Maybe such 'sense' isn't necessarily common and is actually more personalised than one might think. This possibility shouldn’t be all that surprising. Consider again the interaction of base knowledge and the application of some reasoning on said knowledge. That knowledge may not be correct or contextually credible. If I were to believe some information as true (despite that not being the case (such as the appropriateness of non-family members in parents' bedrooms) and applied some reasoning to it, the result would still be ‘common sense’, even if it yielded a negative outcome. Where did I go wrong? I used my common sense!

An issue consistent with the above is false consensus , which refers to a cognitive bias where we overestimate the level of agreement people have with our views and perspectives. Our views, which we often mistake for factual knowledge, may actually be a minority view—making our common sense not so common. In reality, common sense may actually just be the rationale of a small group of people.

Moving on from the ‘common’ aspect of the term, let’s consider the sense part. If something makes ‘sense,’ it seems reasonable or logical: we’ll probably see a positive outcome. But that’s not always the case. Just as our knowledge can be suspect, so can that simple reasoning. A friend of mine was driving a few weeks back and narrowly avoided disaster after driving through a crossroads. He stopped at the sign, looked both ways, and, after seeing it was clear, took off. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear, and thanks to the other driver’s evasive action, my friend avoided harm. His basic reasoning (if it’s clear: go; it is clear: so go)—was wrong. Had the reasoning been a bit stronger or more reflective (i.e., double-check because my view might be compromised), he would have avoided danger. Perhaps the problem with his application of common sense was that his knowledge and reasoning were not working adequately in tandem.

This brings us to one of the most explicit and interesting descriptions of common sense that I’ve seen in the research literature—as quasi-rationality . According to Cognitive Continuum Theory, reflective and intuitive judgments are considered poles on a continuum and, as thinking is never purely reflective or completely intuitive, all of our thoughts lie somewhere in between—a mixture referred to as this quasi-rationality (Cader, Campbell & Watson, 2005; Dunwoody et al., 2000; Hamm, 1988; Hammond, 1996). In this context, common sense is an adaptive form of thought, given that an individual may, on some occasions, reflect more on their judgments than through automatic, intuitive judgment, or, on other occasions, conversely rely more on the intuitive process. “Quasi-rationality has many advantages, which may be one of the reasons that the notion of common sense has persisted and been valued by the layperson for so long, despite the fact that virtually no one has convincingly described it,” wrote Hammond (1996).

I always found this particular description interesting because it accounts for both the knowledge source and the reasoning applied to it. However, by the logic of this quasi-rationality, essentially every form of thought is ‘common sense’ because no thinking is purely reflective or intuitive. In my interpretation, the recipe for the mixture is key. Intuition is experienced-based (i.e., a form of knowledge), whereas reflection is experience-based and reasoning-based, forcing you to take the time to think about the issue for a moment. Delay by even fractions of a second can increase the likelihood of decision accuracy (Teichert, Ferrera & Grinband, 2014).

Obviously, using common sense isn’t critical thinking, but it can be useful when critical thinking isn’t feasible or not worth the effort. However, for it to mean anything close to its colloquial use, it needs to be more than "going with your gut." There has to be adequate reflection to facilitate you in driving across a busy road.

common sense meaning essay

With that, I’m interested in any research on common sense you may have encountered in the past. If you have such thoughts, please be sure to get in touch and let me know!

Cader, R., Campbell, S., & Watson, D. (2005). Cognitive continuum theory in nursing decision‐making. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 49, 4, 397–405.

Dunwoody, P. T., Haarbauer, E., Mahan, R. P., Marino, C., & Tang, C. C. (2000). Cognitive adaptation and its consequences. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 13, 1, 35–54.

Hamm, R. M. (1988). Clinical intuition and clinical analysis: expertise and the cognitive continuum. In J. Dowie & A. Elstein (Eds.), Professional judgment: A reader in clinical decision making, 78–105. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hammond, K. R. (1996). Upon reflection. Thinking & Reasoning, 2, 2–3, 239–248.

Teichert, T., Ferrera, V. P., & Grinband, J. (2014). Humans optimize decision-making by delaying decision onset. PloS one, 9(3), e89638.

Christopher Dwyer Ph.D.

Christopher Dwyer, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the Technological University of the Shannon in Athlone, Ireland.

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  1. Essay On Common Sense

    Common sense essay Introduction: Common sense, it has been said, is the most uncommon thing in the world. Common sense is only the combination of experience with intelligence. It is a rare commodity that is not exactly the mother or native wit. This is only a clever paradox which it seems to instinctively show at unexpected moments.

  2. Common sense

    Common sense is sound, practical judgement concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that is shared by (i.e., "common to") nearly all people. [1] The everyday understanding of common sense is ultimately derived from historical philosophical discussions.

  3. Philosophy and Common Sense 1: What Is Common Sense?

    Common-sense knowledge = widely shared knowledge. Common-sense belief = widely shared belief. Common-sense cognitive methods = widely shared cognitive methods. But looking at these three equations has made me wonder why the notion of common sense is even employed. In this context, “widely shared” appears to mean just the same as “common”.

  4. Commonsense Definition & Meaning

    noun Synonyms of common sense : sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts So far, I've had the common sense not to tweet anything ghastly. James Poniewozik The poker players learns that sometimes both science and common sense are wrong.

  5. The Problem With Common Sense

    Common sense is common because many people are perceived to believe it. The problem is, that doesn't make it true. "Looks like a duck, walks like a duck" is common sense, sure, but consider "looks ...