Common Sense

Common sense, it has been said, is the most uncommon thing in the world. Typically, it is viewed as the knowledge that most people should know. Common sense is only the combination of experience with intelligence. This is only a clever paradox which it seems to instinctively show at unexpected moments. This can apply to things affecting all humans, or it can pertain to certain peoples and issues. It is a quality that neither wealth nor learning can confer on a man. Common sense is the most democratic of all mental qualities. It is a gift that a prince has in common with a peasant.

Common sense is practical wisdom. So we often look upon common sense as a blind instinct. It is a quality that neither wealth nor learning can confer on a man. Education or book-learning, no doubt, makes us sophisticated but does not engender common sense. Even animals have it, which it seems to instinctively show at unexpected moments. It is something different from a laborious process of reasoning. It implies swift decision, a capacity to do the right thing without fumbling. An intelligent man, when guided by a wide experience of life, develops a spontaneous reflex power to act quickly and sensibly in any situation.

Common sense, it has been said, is the most uncommon thing in the world. Common sense is only the combination of experience with intelligence. This is only a clever paradox which it seems to instinctively show at unexpected moments. Albert Einstein was a very great scientist. But he made two holes in the cage—one big and the other small—so that his two cats, one big and other very small (mother and the young one kitten), may come out through the two respective holes. Did he lack common sense? For this reason, common sense is often spoken of as a mystery. Where book learning confuses and misleads, common sense may stand him in good stead. Because it is born of experience, it comes easily to the common man who works with his own hands.

Education or book learning, no doubt, makes us sophisticated but does not engender common sense. The learned man may be a wonderful theorist, a man of many devices. There may not be any doubt about his shrewd intelligence in the abstract. But when faced with a situation, he is utterly lost. He is like the wise man of Sukumar Roy who turns over the pages of his book of recipes in vain for the right remedy that can save him from the angry bull. But if instead of being bookish, he acts on wisdom, tested and proved by experience, he can almost unerringly hit upon the proper line. It must not be thought, however, that common sense rules out the higher faculty of the mind. That is a common sense, the ability to use the experience to meet immediate circumstances. The uncommon never escapes the shrewd judgment of common sense. It governs the day-to-day life of a man.