5 Theses Against Common Sense

Because now is not the time for common sense; because people are suffering at the hands of unquestioned institutions and ways of thinking; and because white people like me are usually all too comfortable with that state of affairs. And so,


Common sense is less a way of thinking than it is a way of circumventing thought. It is a means of making consciousness more efficient.

The reason this is important to realize is because bypassing thought doesn’t entail less action, but rather lots of un[der]thinking action.


Oppression has existed and continues to exist because to those who are complicit in its structures, the conditions that enable it are precisely common-sensical.

Common sense has a way of inverting reality when it has to.


Common sense (like ideology) presents itself as impregnable, natural, and innocent.

(Common sense is neither impregnable, natural nor innocent.)


Common sense must always end with a period (.). Semicolons (;) and question marks (?) are always signs of “overthinking things,” and therefore are made common-sensically suspicious.

Periods are indeed useful and important. But perhaps a question mark is preferable to a period if this period is used to end a sentence–an act, an utterance–that functions not to reason but to rationalize, not to think but to evade or avoid thinking.


Common sense has always been in the white tool belt because common sense is on the side of power. The person of color seems to have little recourse to common sense, and perhaps little use for it. Indeed, is not common sense already against them?


2 thoughts on “5 Theses Against Common Sense”

  1. You know what is really interesting about these, it is not isolated to white people, the races can be reversed and these would still hold true. This really applies to people on both sides of the race argument, which tells me this is less about race and more about acting without thinking due to a mob mentality. Perhaps people on both sides should start thinking and acting more critically before just acting like everyone else does.


    1. Perhaps, but I think the “mob mentality” explanation is too extreme and leaves so much benign/unintended racism untouched. As you say, the problem of common sense is not reducible to race; but it is, in some contexts, INFLECTED racially. Which means that it is, to some extent, “about” race.

      What I’m really trying to touch here is how “common sense” reproduces power structures and systems so that they become beyond question. It’s not uncommon in social theory to speak of common sense (i.e., ideology) being responsible for reifing things like race (that is, bringing race forth as a real, differentiating thing in the world).


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