October 15, 2018

Srđan Prodanović Common Sense, Engagement and Social Change – A Pragmatic Account

Common sense is a kind of practical knowledge that seems intuitive to everyone and towards which, accordingly, resolute opinions are taken. The pessimists will thus argue that common sense necessarily represents a biased way of thinking which, due to its tendency to reproduce prejudice and ideology, should somehow be displaced. On the other hand, those prone to an optimistic view will argue that common sense is actually a valuable type of knowledge because it prevents us from neglecting those (always crucial) practical problems in favor of empty and highbrow abstractions. However, none of these typical positions help us to understand the important paradox that followed the term throughout its history: namely, invocation of common sense is to a large degree a reliable indicator of a certain crisis in the reproduction of norms and rules of a given society and is essentially a call for social engagement.

In the lecture, I will try to show that the third, pragmatic understanding of common sense enables us to see its structure, as well as that we can reconstruct the role which this form of knowledge plays in achieving social change only if we previously grasp this heterogeneity.

Srđan Prodanović works at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade. His main research interests  include: pragmatism, interpretative sociology, sociology of everyday life, contemporary social theory and philosophy of social sciences.

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