America and the political philosophy of common sense by Scott Philip Segrest

By Scott Philip Segrest

From Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson, seminal thinkers have declared 'common feel' crucial for ethical discernment and civilized dwelling. but the tale of common sense philosophy isn't renowned this day. In "America and the Political Philosophy of universal Sense", Scott Segrest strains the background and explores the non-public and social that means of logic as understood particularly in American notion and as mirrored particularly within the writings of 3 paradigmatic thinkers: John Witherspoon, James McCosh, and William James. the 1st signify Scottish good judgment and the 3rd, Pragmatism, the universities that jointly ruled American larger notion for almost centuries. expert american citizens of the founding interval warmly got Scottish good judgment, Segrest writes, since it mirrored so good what they already suggestion, and he uncovers the elemental components of yank good judgment in studying the concept of Witherspoon, who brought that philosophy to them. With McCosh, he indicates the furthest improvement and boundaries of the philosophy, and with it of yank good judgment in its Scottish realist part. With James, he exhibits different dimensions of good judgment americans had lengthy embraced yet that had by no means been tested philosophically. essentially, Segrest's paintings is way greater than an highbrow background. it's a learn of the yank brain and of logic itself - its crucial personality and its human value, either ethical and political. It was once logic, he affirms, that underlay the statement of Independence and the founders' rules of correct and legal responsibility which are nonetheless with us at the present time. Segrest means that figuring out this origin and James' clean of it may be the main to keeping America's very important ethical center opposed to a transforming into alienation from logic around the Western international. Stressing the urgency of realizing and maintaining good judgment, Segrest's paintings sheds new gentle on an undervalued element of yank inspiration and adventure, supporting us to understand the ramifications of common sense philosophy for dignified residing.

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The first reason is that Scottish realism at its best deals more adequately with the range of epistemological problems than most schools of philosophy either before or since. 32 The gist is that common sense intuitions do not need justification, are incapable of being justified, and that trying to justify them undermines rationality. Beliefs may, and in many cases should, be tested to verify their status as intuitions, but genuine intuitions (as Aristotle said of first principles) are the absolute base of reasoning and therefore incapable of demonstration.

36 We saw Shaftesbury employing wit just now in his comment on the dubiousness of polling as a measure of social truth. It is an attitude akin to the serious play or playful seriousness we see in Socrates. Wit takes opinions seriously, but not too seriously. Shaftesbury seems to play with the double meaning of “humour” in his discussion of wit—the humor of a people, their mood or emotional outlook, and then also what we would call a “sense of humor,” an ability to see absurdity in matters typically treated gravely or earnestly.

But neither sight nor taste can discern white from sweet: because what discerns between two things, must know both. ”19 Right judgment or the capacity for it, indeed, is the essence of common sense in both its personal and, as Aristotle suggested in his analysis of homonoia, its political modes. Sensus communis was a term widely used during Roman times, in both formal and informal contexts. Aquinas thus chose for his translation of koine aesthesis a term of great currency. Cicero had made several references to sensus communis in his writings and public speeches but had never made use of it as a technical philosophical concept.

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