How is common sense and sociology different?

Against common sense

Yesterday I was concerned with the question of whether politics works for the pirates without judgment. Another topic is part of it: The question of common sense, which is emphasized again and again. I don't just think it's overrated in the Pirate Party.

Descartes begins the first section of his Discours de la méthode so:

Common sense is that which is best distributed in the world; for everyone thinks they are so well provided with it that even people who are difficult to satisfy in all other things, but no more intellect than they have, tend to wish for themselves.


That is the problem with common sense: everyone has it, and is happy to lease it. Andreas Bock on this:

[Unconscious incompetence] is very tricky: if you are not aware of it, you are often so incompetent that you cannot guess the extent of your own incompetence. As a result, you overestimate yourself and, what is even worse, underestimate experts - you might think "what's so much to know". Unfortunately, this well-known psychological effect is a deficit that many people, and far too many pirates, have.

This relates directly to common sense: "Common sense" tells one person that it goes without saying that homo couples should not raise children, others that a minimum wage is fair - and vice versa.

Technically oriented people in particular should not trust common sense too much: what happens in particle physics, in statistics, in relativity theory cannot be explained and understood with common sense. Common sense tells you something either wave or Particle is. And that also applies to social systems: if Digital natives accuse established parties of not understanding the Internet, then that's true. Conversely, it is often true when feminists, for example, accuse natural scientists of not understanding anything about sociology, for example. And common sense says to some that the dirt (tm) must be out of the Internet and every means has to be used, to others that these weird internal is and the insistence on gender issues are nonsensical.

That doesn't mean that the respective opinion is wrong. Above all, that means: a clarification of terms is required. Too often "common sense" seems to be used as an antidote to ideology, and common sense only executes internalized ideology. Hannah Arendt defines ideology as follows:

First of all, ideologies in their claim to explain the world have it to themselves, not what isbut only what becomesto explain what arises and what passes. […] The claim to a total explanation of the world promises the total explanation of everything that has happened historically, namely a total explanation of the past, total knowledge of the present and reliable prediction of the future. Secondly, as such, ideological thinking becomes independent of all experience, which cannot convey anything new to it, even when what is to be communicated has only just arisen.

(Hannah Arendt: Elements and origins of total rule. Munich. 11th edition. 2006, p. 964.)

So there is ideology when one does not want to be questioned anew, when facts are denied rather than that the worldview is adjusted. Common sense can be ideological insofar as it expresses itself in such a way that Ursula von der Leyen (and with her some "child protection organizations") sticks to her intuition that her blocking law makes sense. But it can also be ideological if one does not want to deal with gender issues from the outset, because common sense says that equal rights have already been achieved.

Incidentally, Descartes did not mean his introduction as mockingly as I quoted it in a distorted manner. He continues:

Since the whole world is hardly mistaken in this, it becomes clear that the ability to judge correctly and to distinguish the truth from the untruth, what actually consists of what is called common sense, is by nature the same in all people, and therefore that The difference in opinion does not come from the fact that one person has more understanding than the other, but that we pursue different paths with our thoughts and do not look at the same things. For it is not just a question of common sense, but also of its good application.

Hence my plea: Put away the enthusiasm for mere "common sense"!

Posted on author Felix NeumannCategories PoliticsTags Arendt, Descartes, gender, common sense, ideology, pirate party, pragmatics