Quotations about   common sense

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The essence of aphorism is the compression of a mass of thought and observation into a single saying. It is the very opposite of dissertation and declamation; its distinction is not so much ingenuity, as good sense brought to a point.

John Morley (1838-1923) English statesman, journalist, writer [John, Viscount Morley]
“Aphorisms,” speech, Edinburgh (1887)
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Added on 20-Mar-18 | Last updated 20-Mar-18
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One can be certain that every generally held idea, every received notion, will be an idiocy, because it has been able to appeal to a majority.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety (2004).
Added on 21-Aug-17 | Last updated 21-Aug-17
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Popular reason does not always know how to act right, nor does it always act right when it knows.

Fisher Ames (1758-1808) American politician, orator
“No Revolutionist,” The Palladium (Nov 1801)
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Added on 5-May-16 | Last updated 5-May-16
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The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
God and the Bible (1875)
Added on 28-Apr-16 | Last updated 28-Apr-16
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In the manner of one who has just beheld a two-headed calf they repeated that they had “never heard such funny ideas!” They were staggered to learn that a real tangible person, living in Minnesota, and married to their own flesh-and-blood relation, could apparently believe that divorce may not always be immoral; that illegitimate children do not bear any special and guaranteed form of curse; that there are ethical authorities outside of the Hebrew Bible; that men have drunk wine yet not died in the gutter; that the capitalistic system of distribution and the Baptist wedding-ceremony were not known in the Garden of Eden; that mushrooms are as edible as corn-beef hash; that the word “dude” is no longer frequently used; that there are Ministers of the Gospel who accept evolution; that some persons of apparent intelligence and business ability do not always vote the Republican ticket straight; that it is not a universal custom to wear scratchy flannels next the skin in winter; that a violin is not inherently more immoral than a chapel organ; that some poets do not have long hair; and that Jews are not always pedlers or pants-makers.
    “Where does she get all them the’ries?” marveled Uncle Whittier Small; while Aunt Bessie inquired, “Do you suppose there’s many folks got notions like hers? My! If there are,” and her tone settled the fact that there were not, “I just don’t know what the world’s coming to!”

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Main Street, ch. 20 (1920)
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Added on 22-Sep-15 | Last updated 22-Sep-15
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Of all things, good sense is the most fairly distributed: everyone thinks he is so well supplied with it that even those who are the hardest to satisfy in every other respect never desire more of it than they already have.

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Le Discours de la Méthode, Part 1 (1637)

    Alt. trans.:
  • Good sense is of all things in the world the most equally distributed, for everybody thinks he is so well supplied with it, that even those most difficult to please in all other matters never desire more of it than they already possess.
  • Common sense is the best distributed commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.
  • Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Mar-14
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Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem neat, plausible, and wrong.

Mencken - neat plausible and wrong - wist_info quote

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“The Divine Afflatus,” New York Evening Mail (16 Nov 1917)
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Reprinted in Prejudices: Second Series (1920) and A Mencken Chrestomathy, ch. 25 (1949).

Variants:
  • "There is always an easy solution to every human problem -- neat, plausible, and wrong."
  • "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Apr-16
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