By Scott Philip Segrest
From Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson, seminal thinkers have declared 'common feel' crucial for ethical discernment and civilized residing. but the tale of common sense philosophy isn't renowned at the present time. In "America and the Political Philosophy of universal Sense", Scott Segrest strains the background and explores the non-public and social that means of good judgment as understood particularly in American idea and as mirrored in particular within the writings of 3 paradigmatic thinkers: John Witherspoon, James McCosh, and William James. the 1st symbolize Scottish logic and the 3rd, Pragmatism, the universities that jointly ruled American better inspiration for almost centuries. knowledgeable americans of the founding interval warmly acquired Scottish logic, Segrest writes, since it mirrored so good what they already notion, and he uncovers the fundamental components of yank logic in reading the idea of Witherspoon, who brought that philosophy to them. With McCosh, he exhibits the furthest improvement and bounds of the philosophy, and with it of yankee good judgment in its Scottish realist section. With James, he indicates different dimensions of good judgment american citizens had lengthy embraced yet that had by no means been tested philosophically. basically, Segrest's paintings is far greater than an highbrow heritage. it's a examine of the yankee brain and of good judgment itself - its crucial personality and its human importance, either ethical and political. It was once logic, he affirms, that underlay the announcement of Independence and the founders' rules of correct and legal responsibility which are nonetheless with us this day. Segrest means that realizing this origin and James' fresh of it may be the main to conserving America's very important ethical center opposed to a growing to be alienation from good judgment around the Western international. Stressing the urgency of knowing and keeping logic, Segrest's paintings sheds new gentle on an undervalued element of yank concept and event, aiding us to understand the ramifications of common sense philosophy for dignified residing.
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Extra info for America and the political philosophy of common sense
The common sense of a people may or may not be grounded in cultivated common sense, and there may be factors at work in a particular polity that undermine, suppress, or oppose the operation of the first two kinds of common sense, and so the communal sense of justice and humanity may be twisted. The absence of cultivated common sense, the lack of a common sense tradition, can make a society vulnerable to social breakdown and self-destruction, as Voegelin suggested. Discovering how common sense rationality may be protected, nourished, and institutionalized is therefore of paramount concern for political science.
The basic idea presented here is that a well-cultivated common sense rationality and the firm grasp of the elements of human nature and human experience it reveals provide a better, because deeper, foundation for moral and political life than either logic or sentiment (the alternative foundations most commonly put forward in the modern period), which are secondary and derivative. Logic helps determine implications, and sentiment, properly nurtured, can incline people to right living and forge the bonds of mutual goodwill; but elemental facts must be known before we can draw true logical conclusions or begin to understand what manner of beings we are that we might aim to live well.
In the contemporary philosophical context of radical uncertainty about or outright willful rejection of permanent metaphysical foundations for ethics and ethical politics (a development for which John Dewey bears a special responsibility in the American setting), analysis of common sense rationality as an empirical phenomenon provides a clarifying service. The experience of common sense rationality was, in some form, always the root of conceptions of natural right and natural law. Without an appreciation of the empirical basis of these conceptions in common sense, natural law concepts and principles seem contrived and dogmatic.
America and the political philosophy of common sense by Scott Philip Segrest