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The common misunderstanding between common knowledge and common sense

I have always believed that the word common sense made no sense and was only ever used in a derogative way, however after a long debate with my father I decided to look up the meaning of the word and found the definition to be very different to what I believe the majority of people believe the statement suggests. Please could people suggest (without looking up the word) what they believe the meaning to be, and in what context would you use it. Thank you.

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    Gail . 50+

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    Jan 4 2013: Common knowledge = knowledge that is commonly known.

    Common sense = an ability to make a RATIONAL decision based on the known.

    People with no common sense confuse emotions with thoughts, and process input through their emotions not their intellect. This causes them to make irrational decisions because they do not know what emotions are and how they should be used.
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      Jan 4 2013: so, part of having common sense would be the ability to operate and make decisions logically without an unreasonable influence from emotion? in my last comment, i never thought about how controlling emotion played into it. i like that definition.
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        Jan 5 2013: Emotions can be a part of the decisions that are made outside of common sense. But there is also this outlier called stupid that is a factor.

        And in the words of an American comedian, you can't fix stupid.
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    Jan 3 2013: I always defined common sense as this:
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    -Albert Einstein
  • Jan 7 2013: Common sense is the least common of the senses.

  • Jan 6 2013: This conversation reflects what I have learned, that common sense is not commonly understood.

    I think Einstein got it right.
  • Jan 5 2013: Common sense is assumed knowledge based on an extrapolation of events and items that can be observed with unenhanced senses.
    To break this down...
    'assumed knowledge' because common sense usually refers to something you have never studied nor verified but you assume to be because "it makes sense" This in itself implies an extrapolation of what you think are analogous situations.
    'an extrapolation' because you are extending what you have experienced into an area you have not experienced before (usually)
    'unenhanced senses' because we usually mean, based on something yoy have seen before, you assume this somewhat different situation would work this way.

    Naturally, common sense (first of all) is so uncommon it should be considered a super power
    Secondly, common sense may have assisted us in the distance past when evolution dominated human behaviour and development, but it does not serve use well in a modern world.
    For example, we live in a macroscopic, slow moving, low gravity environment with limited sound and vision perceptions. Whenever we stray outside of that, things don't make sense anymore because our past experiences no longer make valid extrapolations (or predictions)
  • Jan 4 2013: Common sense is being capable of acting or responding impulsively to situations that might arise. It does not require any prior learning to act appropriately to that situation. It should come naturally. Common knowledge on the other hand is not natural. It is learned and learned by almost all. Now with that tid bit said; I don't know that there is really in place for using common sense. All things are learned, even the most trivial things such as tying your shoe laces. That is not to say that all things are learned by all people. Such a belief leads to the derogatory usage of the term common sense.
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    Jan 4 2013: common sense is making good judgments and being reasonable in decision making based on facts, but that in itself is completely subjective. what is common sense to one person may or may not be common sense to another. so, just like the question of whether "universal truth" exists, you can ask if "universal common sense" exists. a person's cultural background, beliefs, as well as personal knowledge should be taken into account... the variation in these factors and the reality that every individual is different in their minds creates multiple definitions of "common sense."

    it's just too subjective. however if i were to tell someone to use common sense, i would only use it in a situation where the answer or correct thing to do was ridiculously obvious and nearly universally agreed upon. i wouldn't place my own beliefs in it to create an insult.
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    Jan 3 2013: Common sense has to do with how to act. So if you have common knowledge that road A is a shorter distance than road B and that road B is under construction, it is common sense to take road A to your destination. It would be a foolhardy decision to take road B. But some people take road B anyway. Those people lack common sense. Or they act differently than most people would given the same information.
    • Jan 3 2013: I agree part way, however your first explanation i feel is wrong because the person who takes road B might not have the experiences or knowledge of how treacherous an unfinished road will be, however they will lack common sense if they do not learn from their mistake. This is why i believe that common sense is your ability to take what you have learnt and apply it to differnet tasks, and is not the lack of other peoples knowledge. Hence my reason for disliking the term. The term common sense to me suggests what you have said and this is why i think people are grossly misunderstood.
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        Jan 3 2013: The caveat is that they do have the knowledge but choose to behave in a foolhardy manner. They lack common sense. Sorry if I was not clear.