Monday, June 19, 2017
Week 3 - June 19 - Common sense 2
When it comes to common sense, William James places himself at a high level with his peers, but also alongside me, the common man. At the lower level, James and I share common sense. We both (as many people do) have the inherent and innate ability to grasp common concepts and ideas as associated with good judgement. Thus common sense forms the foundation for not only philosophical inquiry but the challenges of everyday life. In this arena of common sense, both James and I fall within the Scottish School. James can function in both arenas, however, the higher and the lower; I cannot. The common sense that James and I share functions as the foundation for discovery and as a caldron for useful experiences upon which each succeeding generation draws. It acts as a common ground where philosophers and common people like me can communicate. But the common sense used by philosophers goes beyond the common ground to a higher level of interpretive analysis that contributes to the view of an incomplete world and the philosophy of “noetic pluralism” that James participates in. I do agree with James that we and the universe are incomplete, but I do not agree that it will stay that way.My knowledge is growing as I write this post, but as James put it, my knowledge is not growing all over; it grows in spots. It is a gradual process of change. I am getting new information and learning the definitions of new words. At some point in the future, what I am learning today will coalesce with something I have previously learned and wa-la, a new precept is born. In and among that process of all this, common sense is working to validate and confirm my conclusions or to invalidate and deny them. All of that is a process that philosophers like James relate to well, but philosophers like James are going beyond that simple process. They actually desire to travel through a wormhole, so to speak, and arrive at the truth of a conclusion without having to travel the long route of the primitive. It is the traditional analytical method that James wishes to bypass and jump directly to, or at least take a shortcut to, the end result. James calls the old rudimentary processes caudal appendages and vestigial that are no longer needed. All that may be true for James and his contemporaries, but for me, the old processes are not vestigial; I still use them; I still need them in order to keep cognitive dissonance at bay.