Archive for the ‘Common Sense’ Category

Common sense – simple? It’s an illusion of simplicity …

September 22, 2007

Common sense is not a simple thing.  Instead, it is an immense society of hard-earned practical ideas – of multitudes of life-learned rules and exceptions, dispositions and tendencies, balances and checks.

If common sense is so diverse and intricate, what makes it seem so obvious and natural?  This illusion of simplicity comes from losing touch with what happened during infancy, when we formed our first abilities.  As each new group of skills matures, we build more layers on top of them.  As time goes on, the layers below become increasingly remote until, when we try to speak of them later in life, we find ourselves with little more to say than “I don’t know.”

The Society of Mind by Marvin Minsky

Preciseness is Necessary for Creativity

July 1, 2007

Precision makes for clearness of thought, and thence for boldness of thought and for fertility in trying new combinations of ideas.

When initial thoughts are vague and slipshod, at every subsequent state of thought common sense has to step in to limit applications and to explain meanings.

In creative thought common sense is a bad master. Its sole criteria for judgment is that the new ideas shall look like the old ones. In other words it can act only by suppressing originality.

   — Alfred Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics