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Articles

The Life & Death of Common Sense

An obituary by Toni Vogel Carey

We think we know what common sense is, and whatever it is, that we have it. But some people don’t have much, and those who do would be hard-pressed to define it. Bishop Berkeley said in his Philosophical Commentaries (no.751) that he aimed “to be eternally banishing Metaphisics &c & recalling Men to Common Sense.” But Berkeley’s way of recalling us to common sense was to argue that there are no physical objects, only God and ideas, which seems the very opposite of common sense; Thomas Reid, the protagonist of my story, called it ‘metaphysical lunacy’ (Works, ed.