What is Common Sense after all?

So, what is Common Sense or as we Germans say “Gesunder Menschenverstand”?

According to Wikipedia Common sense is what people would agree in common.

What does that mean? I think Common Sense is what a group of people have learnt or experienced and now know implicitly. It is what they intuitively think is right.

Ken Schwaber say

Common Sense is a combination of experience, training, humility, wit and intelligence.

in his book Agile Project Management with Scrum.

If learning and experience is part of this thing, can we learn Common Sense? On one hand, Common Sense seems more than knowledge. On the other hand let’s look a bit on the phases of learning:

  • First there is unconscious incompetence: I do not know that I don’t know (e.g. kids are not aware that they can not drive a car).
  • Then comes conscious incompetence: I know that I don’t know (This feels like sitting in a car’s driver seat for the first).
  • Then comes the learning work leading to conscious competence: I know that I know (For the first couple of month driving a car, I do everything very conscious).
  • Last phase is unconscious competence: I don’t know that I know (I do not have to think when driving a car)

By the way is there a similar though slightly different concept in eastern philosophy called Shu-Ha-Ri.
The elements we have learnt and that are part of our unconscious competence (or we are in the Ri state for that matter) portfolio basically build our paradigms (another of those big words). Those paradigms in turn are part of our Common Sense.

So a part of what we see as Common Sense is actually what we’ve learnt and experienced (particular in interaction with others).

On the other hand only things that really work and are easy to comprehend will make it to our Common Sense. This would exclude complex processes or artificial prescriptive instructions.

Hey, what is this crap good for, now? First, this was not the question here…

Second, there might be another post…

Another interesting question though is: can we unlearn or “overlearn” things? Or to state it in another way: How does the (our) Common Sense change over time?

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