Thomas Paine wrote his Common Sense to talk Americans into independence. He did pretty well. Things would not be going as well with the American Heritage dictionary, to derive common sense from “common feelings of humanity”: Mr. Paine, though erudite, never chanced to persuade king George into trying American shoes.


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Common sense is a sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge, says The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. The dictionary has the Latin sēnsus commūnis for “common feelings of humanity”.


The plaque on the White Hart hotel to commemorate Thomas Paine
The plaque to commemorate Thomas Paine on the White Hart hotel in Lewes, East Sussex, England


Thomas Paine wrote an all-time bestseller, in American history. Already first graders may know, it was not a romance noveletta. Should we derive his matter from emotion, we would have to come up with impersonal feeling, already for the introduction.


In the following sheets, the author hath studiously avoided every thing which is personal among ourselves. Compliments as well as censure to individuals make no part thereof. The wise, and the worthy, need not the triumph of a pamphlet; and those whose sentiments are injudicious, or unfriendly, will cease of themselves unless too much pains are bestowed upon their conversion.


Thomas Paine was not seeking consensus with the British. The Declaration of Independence, to come only a little after, tells about dire straits. Perception on who brought the trouble was clear.


As a long and violent abuse of power, (…) and as the King of England hath undertaken in his own Right, to support the Parliament in what he calls Theirs


Feel welcome to my public domain posters and translation.



It is not only the Common Sense introductory discourse that we could not paraphrase as “Dear George III, you would not be happy, were you in our shoes”.


Common Sense; click to read over Project Gutenberg.


IN the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; (…) to examine that connexion and dependance, on the principles of nature and common sense; (…) Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavoured to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us; (…) common sense is not sophistry, it pertains with wits and decision making.


To return to the American Heritage dictionary, Thomas Paine wrote the work absolutely common-sense, thus the result here can be only one: common sense does not derive from “common feelings of humanity”. However we even might be critical, British people remain part of the human species, and the feeling as in the world-famous pamphlet cannot be theirs.


Well, as for the feeling and either of the countries nowadays, an illustration as that to have come with HDR photo shop samples would be adequate.




Is it possible that Latin was originally spoken by people who made one humanity and felt together? No, it is not. Ancient Rome was by no means a bucolic idyll. Ancient Roman military may have happened to be extolled in film industry productions, yet only an imagination naive to the extremest would envision actually meeting the type of human for a pleasurable experience. Roman control over territories was taken through war. The military did the policing of conquered lands, and if short of own manpower, the ancient speakers of Latin turned to local control hierarchies. There was not faith in “common feelings of humanity” in ancient Rome.


Ancients wrote and spoke, however. The Latin dictionary by Facciolati, Forcellini, and Bailey gathers on the senses.


Facciolati, Forcellini, and Bailey dictionary of Latin, SENSUS; Click to enlarge


We can read that ancients perceived external and inner senses. The external senses were five and regarded objects and phenomena external to the body, namely vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The inner senses were two, the senses coming together or common sense, and the imagine-making or representative power, memory being able to connect with both.


We can find more light on the nature of the common sense in Lucretius. Ancients perceived that it arose in bodily senses, as he wrote in De Rerum Natura. Modern times, human senses have been perceived as modalities that come together to make pools of information for particular activity (Vander et al., 1985). Taking typing for an example, we look at keyboards in initial stages of learning; later, it is touch and kinesthesia we rely on more.


The imagine-make or representative powers are not to mean illusions. Feel welcome to view the visuals and symbolics for Language Mapping, my common sense grammar.


Recurring to modern definitions of common sense, Wikipedia admits that common sense allows psychological perception, as of movement, size, or identity, However, same as the American Heritage dictionary, it excludes science, as well as skill and trade, from sanity. The resource says,


Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by (“common to”) nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.



We cannot have nearly all people for smiths or metalworkers, doctors, bakers. Well, where is the good sense gone? 😉


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