Two Great Posts on Thomism, Philosophy and Common Sense

Over at Just Thomism are two good posts on the relationship between philosophy and common sense. Here are some snippets:

“None of these questions [mentioned above] can be raised by common sense: in fact, to the extent it can address the questions, common sense dismisses them and takes the answer as obvious. This is why philosophy can only exist by putting common sense aside.”

“- Philosophy exists in the space vacated by common sense, but this does not mean that we fill up that space with whatever contradicts common sense; it means that common sense becomes one source of hypotheses to be argued for or against. It becomes one voice among many, and not necessarily one that will have priority in any given case.”

“-   No philosopher has insisted more on being common sense than Berkeley, and no one is assumed (in my mind wrongly) to be further from it. The irony here contains an argument – Berkeley presses a crucial question about what exactly is evident, or given in common sense.”

“- The claim to common sense is, again, a sort of marketing that usually distorts the real issue in play. Take the dispute between Aristotle and Parmenides. Here, Aristotle is assumed to have the high-ground of common sense as the one who defends the reality of motion. But a close look makes the issue much more problematic: Parmenides, it turns out, wrote extensively about nature, but he assumed that to speak in this way was to follow “the way of mortal opinion”.  So the issue between Aristotle and Parmenides turns out to be not whether we can give some account of mobile things, but whether this account rises to the level of episteme. Aristotle says yes, but both Parmenides and the 20th century scientist say no. Simialr things surface when we consider other obvious violations of common sense. No one is assumed to violate common sense more than Berkeley, but an actual reading of his texts shows us a man more zealous to keep himself in line with it than anyone.”


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