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 popular this day. In "America and the Political Philosophy of universal Sense", Scott Segrest strains the historical past and explores the private and social which means of logic as understood particularly in American inspiration and as mirrored particularly within the writings of 3 paradigmatic thinkers: John Witherspoon, James McCosh, and William James. the 1st signify Scottish logic and the 3rd, Pragmatism, the colleges that jointly ruled American larger concept for almost centuries. informed american citizens of the founding interval warmly obtained Scottish logic, Segrest writes, since it mirrored so good what they already concept, and he uncovers the elemental parts of yankee good judgment in analyzing the idea of Witherspoon, who brought that philosophy to them. With McCosh, he indicates the furthest improvement and boundaries of the philosophy, and with it of yank logic in its Scottish realist section. With James, he exhibits different dimensions of logic american citizens had lengthy embraced yet that had by no means been tested philosophically. essentially, Segrest's paintings is way greater than an highbrow historical past. it's a learn of the yankee brain and of good judgment itself - its crucial personality and its human value, either ethical and political. It used to be good judgment, he affirms, that underlay the statement of Independence and the founders' rules of correct and legal responsibility which are nonetheless with us this present day. Segrest means that figuring out this beginning and James' fresh of it may be the most important to retaining America's important ethical center opposed to a becoming alienation from logic around the Western international. Stressing the urgency of knowing and conserving good judgment, Segrest's paintings sheds new mild on an undervalued point of yank concept and event, supporting us to understand the ramifications of common-sense philosophy for dignified residing.
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Extra resources for America and the political philosophy of common sense
More immediately, the impact came through Dewey’s recent book, Human Nature and Conduct, which was based on the English common sense tradition. From there, I worked back to Thomas Reid and Sir William Hamilton. This English and Scottish conception of common sense as a human attitude that incorporates a philosopher’s attitude toward life without the philosopher’s technical apparatus, and inversely the understanding of Classic and Stoic philosophy as the technical, analytical elaboration of the common sense attitude, has remained a lasting influence in my understanding both of common sense and [of] Classic philosophy.
25 As John D. 26 At the same time, according to Vico’s understanding, “The sensus communis cannot be merely a static set of values embodied in a literary canon [but, rather,] is a capital constantly changing its outline as it is invested in various causes. ”27 Vico may have been influenced in his thinking about sensus communis by Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, who may fairly be considered the originator of British common sense philosophy. Shaftesbury was Vico’s contemporary and lived in Italy for a time.
Dewey thought that the only foundation possible and the only foundation necessary and desirable for ethics was the existing and ever-changing matrix of human relations within which we find ourselves and out of which, he claimed, our values and highest ideals emerge. Dewey continually begs the question as to the source of the best human ideals, assuming it is simply persons intelligently and imaginatively engaged with their human and material environment and suggesting new possibilities for improving the quality of life, and rules out divine inspiration as unverifiable.