• Cidat
    104
    I know that interpretation of what other people say is context- and situation-dependent. But do you still need some common sense in order to correctly interpret what others say or write?
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    "Interpret." What interpretation is really comes into question when interpretation itself becomes the issue. Like here. And when looked at, it has to be qualified with some specification; i.e., you have to tell us what you mean. What do you mean? As to common sense, what is that? And likely whatever you say it is, maybe.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.5k


    I think so, yes. If there's uncertainty or confusion, explanations will have to be made, and those will have to come to ground somewhere. There is, it seems to me, no higher 'court of appeal' available than common sense.
  • Manuel
    2.6k


    If not, then how do you make sense of anything? We can't simply guess at everything the other person is saying, we wouldn't know what to do.

    The problem, as I see it, is trying to articulate what common sense is. It's not hard to point out thought experiments or even real life news events, in which most of us would say "yeah, she was wrong" or "he's guilty" or whatever. But when you try and say what this consists of, we end up appealing to our intuitions, which we can't really go behind.

    So, in saying that in interpreting others we need common sense, we are actually saying a lot, in terms of all that goes into common sense.
  • bert1
    1.2k
    There is no common sense in philosophy. The writer has to be clear and unambiguous, and not blame the reader for not understanding it. Common sense is shared assumptions (or is it?). Philosophy is the examination of assumptions, among other things.

    EDIT: What Tim said
  • Joshs
    3.5k
    There is, it seems to me, no higher 'court of appeal' available than common sense.Srap Tasmaner

    Shouldn’t the highest court of appeal be one’s success at construing the personal system of meaning informing another’s utterances effectively enough that one doesn’t force a ‘common’ sense onto it?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.5k


    I think I would include in 'common sense' the precept that an utterance ought to be understood as it was intended and not some other way. On the other hand, you have to speak in such a way that your audience can grasp your intended meaning. (Plus all the other layers Grice describes.)

    Did you have something different in mind? Have I failed to grasp the intended meaning of your post?
  • Joshs
    3.5k
    I think I would include in 'common sense' the precept that an utterance ought to be understood as it was intended and not some other way. On the other hand, you have to speak in such a way that your audience can grasp your intended meaning. (Plus all the other layers Grice describes.)

    Did you have something different in mind? Have I failed to grasp the intending meaning of your post?
    Srap Tasmaner

    In the ongoing discussions of Wittgenstein, we have seen how sense emerges from and is constantly remade in mobile contexts of interaction. The emphasis here tends to be on contexts of relative agreement on criteria of knowledge, truth, etc, that language games enact.
    What hasnt been discussed are relatively robust and temporally stable thematic styles or habits of understanding( worldviews, perspectives) that we can come to discern in each other through these interactions.

    Speaking in such a way that an audience can grasp
    your intended meaning sounds to me like an exercise
    that is useful in only the most superficial sort of circumstance , not one that arises every day for most of us when we find ourselves dumbfounded, annoyed, infuriated, disappointed by the motives of others we think wenknow well. This isn’t a matter of not being able to interpret single utterances, but of not fathoming the deeper motivational justification for the actions of others. Single utterances are just the tip of an enormous iceberg , and we can easily convince ourselves that we understand those utterances perfectly well, until the fuller context of that speech bites us on the ass and we accuse them of being dishonest , hypocritical, irrational,etc. We have no choice but to react that way when we believe that the only proper sense is a common sense.

    Put differently, truly common sense is often the product of an enormous effortful constructive achievement.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.5k
    Speaking in such a way that an audience can grasp your intended meaning sounds to me like an exercise that is useful in only the most superficial sort of circumstanceJoshs

    It's a start. There's little point in speaking Russian to me, for instance. And you need to be mindful of what your audience is likely to know and not know. The basics.

    This isn’t a matter of not being able to interpret single utterances, but of not fathoming the deeper motivational justification for the actions of others. Single utterances are just the tip of an enormous icebergJoshs

    Absolutely. I'm not talking just about understanding the meaning of what you say (as above--- I, for instance, don't grok Russian) but also what you mean by saying it. Beyond that there are of course bigger questions, like are you seeking truth or trolling? And bigger. If 'bigger' is the right way to put that.

    Put differently, truly common sense is often the product of an enormous effortful constructive achievement.Joshs

    I wouldn't disagree, but it's not what people usually mean by 'common sense'. The usual sense is what allows people to understand statements like @Daemon's: "If the baby doesn't thrive on raw milk, try boiling it."

    And I stand by my 'court of appeal' thing, I think: when someone says, "That doesn't follow" or something similar, I think something like 'common sense', as it's usually understood, is the ultimate backstop. If you can't make the steps of your point in plain language relying only on the usual canons of informal rationality, there's nothing else to appeal to. (I'm thinking of this a little in terms of the debates about the 'expressive power' of programming languages, if that helps.)
  • Joshs
    3.5k

    If you can't make the steps of your point in plain language relying only on the usual canons of informal rationality, there's nothing else to appeal to. (I'm thinking of this a little in terms of the debates about the 'expressive power' of programming languages, if that helps.)Srap Tasmaner

    I was thinking of the corporate world, where the slogan ‘anything worth saying should be summarizable
    in a simple sentence’ is often heard. But that’s the nature of business , isn’t it, the lowest common denominator. You make the most money by offering a product which is familiar and relatable to as wide an audience as possible.
    In the corporate world there is nothing but the common.
    Of course , what is ‘simple’, ‘plain’ and ‘common’ is relative to the community one is aiming at. One must begin by presupposing there is such a community of like-thinking persons, and this could be a very small group. Philosophers are accused all the time of not using ‘plain’ , ‘ simple’, ‘common’ language even though within their own community that is exactly what they are using.

    I’m reminded of Heidegger’s ‘Das Man’, common sense as a flattening out of individual experience in which everyone is on the same page because the common understanding is designed to be vague , ambiguous and general enough to foster this sense of shared experience.
  • James Riley
    2.9k
    I know that interpretation of what other people say is context- and situation-dependent. But do you still need some common sense in order to correctly interpret what others say or write?Cidat

    I want to talk about "common sense." As one with extraordinary sense, I understand what is meant by common sense. But really, folks, as we look around at the common man, do we really want common sense? I know some on this board hate on those of the Enlightenment, but that aside, we can't really look up to the enlightened as anything to aspire to, while actually believing these men of extraordinary sense when they exalted common sense and the common man. We can say that we trust the American people to do the right thing at the end of the day, relying largely on their common sense. But I think that ship may have sailed.

    Anyway, I digress. Sorry. I was not using common sense to correctly interpret what was said/wrote about common sense. Had I used common sense, I would STFU and focus on what was meant.
  • Daemon
    589
    I know that interpretation of what other people say is context- and situation-dependent. But do you still need some common sense in order to correctly interpret what others say or write?Cidat

    I've been talking about this in the discussion on "understanding". I believe what you need to correctly interpret what others say is not so much common sense as common experience.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.5k
    common sense as a flattening out of individual experience in which everyone is on the same page because the common understanding is designed to be vague , ambiguous and general enough to foster this sense of shared experience.Joshs

    Oof. I hope we can aim a little higher than that.

    Maybe, for comparison, something more like this:

    Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me. — Thoreau

    You can speak plainly and simply without thereby simplifying what you have to say or being insincere, without changing what you have to say into 'what everyone says'. To do so is to honor your own experience, your own thought, and to honor your audience. I hope.
  • Daemon
    589
    I used to work as an accident investigator, it was striking how often people talked about common sense (and the lack of it) after accidents. I began to think maybe common sense isn't so common. Also how do you tell if somebody has common sense? I concluded that it isn't a useful concept!
  • SpaceDweller
    434
    But do you still need some common sense in order to correctly interpret what others say or write?Cidat

    My personal error (even in real life) is, I express my self often wrong because of haste.
    So I assume same may happen to others.
    I think a solution is to take a bit more time to get the meaning (common sense), and if you can't ask for clarification.
    In real life however It's better to ask for clarification right away and skip taking any time.
  • Varde
    304
    You need common sense. If the topic is well written you may generate common sense; if you don't have common sense. You might hear 'possible worlds', and because you have witnessed a few other threads on the subject, it does make sense.

    If I say 'dishevelled spirit', it won't make any sense unless you read an understandable description.

    This is an example of understanding via common sense.

    However, being educated or being taught is a better term, I think you could have put forth a better title.
  • unenlightened
    6.6k
    "Sense" has two very different but related meanings. There are the senses that inform us of the world, and the ordering of our ideas about the world by which we 'make sense' of what our senses tell us.

    Interpreting what others say, is therefore about reconciling ideas about the world between us so as to produce a commonality of sense. This is called communication; communication produces common sense. We see in a state of enmity, that communication breaks down, and common sense flies out the window. In such circumstances, there is no meaning - a bullet communicates "Die!" if you like, the way footprints communicate feet having been there. but there is no commonality here, I am just making my own sense of my own senses.
  • Amity
    2.9k
    I know that interpretation of what other people say is context- and situation-dependent. But do you still need some common sense in order to correctly interpret what others say or write?Cidat

    This is quite the question.
    I've been thinking about it. Don't have much time to write just now but...
    I wondered whether 'common-sense' was the same as 'gumption'.
    Found this:
    https://www.writingtips.cc/sense-vs-common-sense-vs-good-sense-vs-horse-sense-vs-gumption-vs-judgment-vs-wisdom/

    Then, the 'interpretation of what other people say' - a real mine or mind-field.
    Just putting this link here for the time being:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-freedom/201402/three-techniques-read-people

    As to how 'correct' we will ever be as to what is said, written or acted on....hmm...
    Great discussion so far :up:

    Gotta go :cool:
  • Hermeticus
    181
    Common Sense
    the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way


    How does language work?
    As children we attain a level of (practical) knowledge that we may partake in the communication method known as language. This is based on sounds and symbols that have been commonly agreed upon to have a certain meaning.

    So yes, certainly we do need common sense to use and understand words.



    A side note on "common sense":
    I find it a bit silly that many people take "common sense" as obvious or as simple truth. Common sense indicates just that - a perception that is widely spread. It does not say anything about truth or validity of the matter at all.
  • Cidat
    104
    I suppose common sense is necessary so there aren't too many questions. We need to move on / navigate smoothly enough.
  • Pantagruel
    2k
    I know that interpretation of what other people say is context- and situation-dependent. But do you still need some common sense in order to correctly interpret what others say or write?Cidat

    Common-sense would suggest yes......
  • Joshs
    3.5k
    A side note on "common sense":
    I find it a bit silly that many people take "common sense" as obvious or as simple truth. Common sense indicates just that - a perception that is widely spread. It does not say anything about truth or validity of the matter at all.
    Hermeticus

    Indeed, although the dictionary definition includes:

    1) good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.
    "a common-sense approach”

    2) : sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts

    3) sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence

    Notice that intelligence, soundness, prudence and good sense describe better or worse understanding of situations, independent of how widely shared the perception is. Combine this with ‘simple perception’, ‘practical matters’, ‘independent of specialized knowledge and training’ , and you get:

    obvious or simple truth
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