common sense
   Among the most influential philosophical approaches in 19th- and 20th-century Protestant theology has been the common sense realism of Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid (1710-96). Reid, who taught at both King's College in Aberdeen and the University of Glasgow, developed his philosophical, ethical, and religious ideas in reaction to the views of philosophers David Hume and George Berkeley. Both men believed that humans related to the world via perceptions, ideas, and the mind. Reid championed common sense, that ordinary people (as well as intellectuals) could gain a reliable perception of the world through the use of their senses. Individuals, he posited, also have an innate moral sense. Theologically, Reid's approach suggested that anyone could grasp the meaning of the Bible by a simple and somewhat literal reading. Reid published his view in several books, the most important being An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (1764), Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785), and Essays on the Active Powers of Man (1788).
   Reid found an early champion in the United States in John Witherspoon (1723-94), long-term president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University). The ideas were incorporated into what is called Princeton Theology, with its emphasis on the literal reading of the biblical text.
   While Reid remains popular in some Fundamentalist and Evangelical circles, common sense philosophy suffered in modern times from the apparent failure of anthropologists to document a common moral sense in their observation of different cultures, and as subatomic physics revealed a world not previously available to sensory perception or understandable through common sense.
   Further reading:
   ■ Melvin Dalgarno, The Philosophy of Thomas Reid (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989)
   ■ Norman Daniels, Thomas Reid's Inquiry: The Geometry of Visibles and the Case for Realism (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1989)
   ■ John Haldane, The Philosophy of Thomas Reid: A Collection of Essays (oxford: Blackwell, 2003)
   ■ Thomas Reid, The Works of Thomas Reid, 4 vols. (Charlestown, U.K.: Samuel Etheridge, 1813) Various editions.

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Common sense — Common Com mon, a. [Compar. {Commoner}; superl. {Commonest}.] [OE. commun, comon, OF. comun, F. commun, fr. L. communis; com + munis ready to be of service; cf. Skr. mi to make fast, set up, build, Goth. gamains common, G. gemein, and E. mean low …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Common sense — Sense Sense, n. [L. sensus, from sentire, sensum, to perceive, to feel, from the same root as E. send; cf. OHG. sin sense, mind, sinnan to go, to journey, G. sinnen to meditate, to think: cf. F. sens. For the change of meaning cf. {See}, v. t.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • common sense — noun uncount * the ability to use good judgment and make sensible decisions: Let s use a little common sense here. a. only before noun using or involving common sense: a common sense approach to the problem …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • common sense — n [U] the ability to behave in a sensible way and make practical decisions ▪ Use your common sense for once! ▪ a common sense approach to education …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • common sense — n. ordinary good sense or sound practical judgment common sense adj. common sensical [käm′ən sen′si kəl] …   English World dictionary

  • Common sense — Com mon sense See {Common sense}, under {Sense} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • common sense — I noun acumen, astuteness, balanced judgment, calmness, clear thinking, composure, experience, experienced view, good judgment, good sense, intelligence, intuition, judgment, level headedness, logic, mental poise, native reason, natural sagacity …   Law dictionary

  • common sense — [n] good reasoning acumen, cool, good sense, gumption, horse sense*, intelligence, levelheadedness, practicality, prudence, reasonableness, sense, sound judgment, soundness, wisdom, wit; concept 409 Ant. foolishness, impracticality, insanity,… …   New thesaurus

  • COMMON SENSE —         (англ.) здравый смысл. Философский энциклопедический словарь. М.: Советская энциклопедия. Гл. редакция: Л. Ф. Ильичёв, П. Н. Федосеев, С. М. Ковалёв, В. Г. Панов. 1983. COMMON SENSE …   Философская энциклопедия

  • common sense — 14c., originally the power of uniting mentally the impressions conveyed by the five physical senses, thus ordinary understanding, without which one is foolish or insane (L. sensus communis, Gk. koine aisthesis); meaning good sense is from 1726.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • common sense — ► NOUN ▪ good sense and sound judgement in practical matters …   English terms dictionary

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