Common Sense

Written By: Leon Felkins
On 1/8/96
Last Revision on October 8, 2009
Working . . . Sorry, this section is a work in progress!
"Common sense is the measure of the possible; it is composed of experience and prevision; it is calculation applied to life." -- Henri-Frédéric Amiel

I have always been puzzled by the seemingly irrational actions of many in our society. Why is there so little common sense? Why do people blindly follow propaganda from politicians and the news media? Why are we so prone to accept explanations based on mysticism or wishful thinking? Why do we not try to apply a little logic to our thinking? Why are we so easily manipulated?

While we will never know the answers to these questions completely, a useful concept that helps to understand some of it is the concept of memes. Richard Dawkins introduced this concept in his book, The Selfish Gene, (second edition published in 1989). I will provide some links to essays on memes that are on the net. Other interesting essays on the mind and human behavior will be referenced and links provided, where available.


Arste, Kai; "Theory of Knowledge: Reasoning and Logic", online at

Dawkins, Richard; The Selfish Gene, second edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Dawkins, Richard; "Viruses of the Mind", 1991. Online at

Lynch, Aaron; Thought Contagion. New York: Basic Books, 1996.

Dennett, Daniel C.; Consciousness Explained. Back Bay Books, Boston. 1991.

Gauthier, David. Morals by Agreement. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1986

Howard, Philip K.. The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America. Warner Books, New York. 1994.

McWilliams, Peter. Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do. Prelude Press, Los Angeles. 1993.

Parfit, Derek: Reasons and Persons. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 1984.

Revel, Jean-François. The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information. Random House, New York. 1991.

Ridley, Matt. The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. Penguin Books, New York. 1993.

Ridley, Matt. The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation. Viking Penguin, New York. 1997.

Ruwart, Dr. Mary J.. Healing Our World: The Other Piece of The Puzzle. SunStar Press, Kalamazoo, 1993.

Smith, Donald G.. ...And They Also Kick You When You're Down: An Irreverent Guide to the Way the REAL World Works. Dodd, Mead & Company, New York. 1984.

Sorabji, Richard. Animal Minds & Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate. Cornell University Press, Ithaca. 1993.

Wilson, Edward O.. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1998. Chapter 1 is online at

Wilson, Edward O.. On Human Nature. Harvard University Press, Cambridge. 1978.

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