Common Sense – Concept, importance, limitations and function

We explain what common sense is, how it is learned, its limitations and functions. Also, why it is important.

common sense
Common sense is taken for granted, but it varies in each culture.

What is common sense?

Common sense is the perspective or way of reasoning that is common or predominant in a human collective, generally a culture, and that is considered universal, natural or given, that is, it does not require prior learning or a premeditated effort. That is, common sense is that way of seeing things that we have very assumed, that we consider simple and general, because we have inherited it from our society.

So common sense it is only common within a given social framework, and it is not universal for all humanity, even if we think otherwise. In fact, we sometimes use the term to refer to the simplest or most obvious degree of logic, instinct, or pre-rational thinking. In fact, the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) understood it as “the faculty to orient oneself in practical life”.

The principles of common sense are not usually explained and they are not the result of conscious learning, but are given to us by the simple fact of being part of society. It is not, therefore, a sense in the same use of the term as sight or smell, but rather it is a direction or an orientation, that is, an internal sense.

Common sense function

In general, common sense fulfills the following functions:

  • It provides us with a quick and intuitive general understanding of situations, from the information provided by the other senses.
  • It guides us towards a way of thinking, acting or reasoning that does not require prior reflectionrather, it tends to follow the law of the pack.
  • It provides us with an essential framework of perception that allows us to use our senses in a simpler and more efficient way, giving us a previous impression of what the world is.

Importance of common sense

The proverb says that common sense is the least common of the senses, meaning that when we really need it, common sense fails us and is replaced by conscious thought.

Such situations emphasize the importance of a certain degree of common sense for human communities, since makes it possible to tend towards a minimum uniformity of practical thought, that is, a set of rules given in advance and by which we can govern ourselves in situations where there is no time to reflect and act consciously.