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Vol.18 What is Commonsense?
Vol.17 Risk Management Part2.
Vol.16 Risk Management Part1.
Vol.15 Sense of Balance.
Vol.14 Narrowing the regional
                   disparities in
                   medical services.
Vol.13 What is Civilization?
2009(5)
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Vol.18 What is Commonsense?
  We often hear comments such as g(S)he has commonsenseh or g(S)he is devoid of commonsense.h But what exactly is commonsense? According to the dictionary (Sanseido Japanese dictionary), it is defined as knowledge or a way of thinking that a particular society has in common.

 In the above definition, the gcommon knowledgeh part is a matter of each personfs education level, and lack of such knowledge would merely receive reprimands such as gDonft you know a thing like that when youfve got a degree? Itfs common knowledge.hI too got reprimands of this kind often when I was young.

 If common knowledge indicates the average knowledge level of that particular generation, it may be said that in modern (Japanese) society it would be the knowledge level of a two-year college or vocational college graduate. It is somewhat difficult to measure, as expectation of others could differ depending on the environment a person is in. Nonetheless, it is relatively feasible to comprehend, since we are talking about a concrete subject – knowledge.

 On the other hand, the gcommon way of thinkingh part of the above definition is extremely vague, and yet when people talk of commonsense or its absence, it often seems to be the case that they are referring to the gway of thinkingh rather than gknowledge.h When someone is criticized of lacking commonsense, it is more often than not the content of that personfs comment or action that is the subject of criticism.

 If so, what can we use as a basis to define a way of thinking that is common in a particular society?

 A personfs way of thinking is based on their way of living or philosophy of life. Criticizing their way of thinking leads to criticizing their way of living or philosophy of life. Furthermore, I think that the kind of behaviour that makes people uncomfortable and becomes the target of criticism is uncooperative or antisocial behaviour, as represented by words such as self-righteousness or egoism.

 Therefore, I argue that whether or not one considers the othersf circumstances and has sympathy for them can be the basis for measuring whether onefs way of thinking is commonsensical or not.

 I believe that if you have the level of knowledge equivalent to a two-year college or vocational college graduate and lead a life with sympathy for others, you will not be criticized for lacking commonsense.
End.
Masaru Sugaya

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