The Cambridge dictionary define common sense (CS) as “”the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way”.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defined common sense as “the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions”.
The Collin dictionary define it as “plain ordinary good judgment; sound practical sense”.
Dictionary.com define it as “normal native intelligence”.
From these definitions we can say several things about common sense. It is based on sound knowledge, it should help us make good decisions (to act) and it should allow us to live safely.
Nonetheless, in spite of the abundance of rules of law, when we look around us what is happening in this world is really alarming. Wars, human trafficking, drug abuse, mismanagement and corruption is rife. Even sanctity of the family institution is not spared as we see increasing domestic abuse and divorce rates.
What have gone wrong?
Do we lack sound knowledge? Maybe we have knowledge but they are not sound. Conventionally, knowledge is based on awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. For example, fire is hot. We accept this as knowledge because we may have touched it ourselves or has seen fire scorching something. On similar grounds, we can accept that ice is cold. But what if someone says to us “don’t do bad things to others because bad things will befall us too”. Can we readily accept this as knowledge too? If we have had no such experience I would guess we would dispel this notion. Even if we had an experience we may choose to ignore it. Past wars have fail to teach man humility.
I feel strongly that sound knowledge should be based on revealed knowledge of the divine rather than conventional wisdom.
Did we make the wrong decisions? Highly probable! I once heard a wise man said “We often make decisions not for the right reasons”. Politicians give to the needy to buy their votes not to help them. Many of us desire promotion to higher positions not because we want to shoulder greater responsibilities but the attraction of a big raise or greater powers. Wrong decisions are made because of unsound knowledge.
Even if we are making correct decisions can we act accordingly?
On the question on whether we are happy and can live safely, I let you be the judge.
Would I be incorrect to say that common sense is very much lacking nowadays?
By Ezamshah Ismail, Senior Teaching Fellow