I was reading Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Substack the other day–I’ve been enjoying his writing a great deal–and I saw this quote:
I have to say: I agree with this whole-heartedly. I’ve hated the phrase “common sense” for years, for the exact same reason: what people who refer to “common sense” almost always mean is “My position is inherently self-evident and you are a fool for disagreeing with it.” Referring to one’s own beliefs as “common sense” is rhetorical self-promotion, nothing more.
Now, maybe some people refer to “common sense” to refer to received wisdom that should just be easily obvious: It’s just common sense to change your oil every few thousand miles! It’s just common sense to season the cast-iron pan before you use it! And so on. Here, too, is an implied insult, since “common sense” is almost never invoked to describe a given piece of information until we have encountered someone who doesn’t know it.
So let’s retire “common sense”. It’s a terrible phrase that has no place in an informed and rational civilization.
(Yes, it’s rather late on Friday and I’m on my second drink, why do you ask?)