Sunday, January 27, 2013

Common Sense and Good Sense

In Repetition and Difference Deleuze makes the distinction between "common sense" and "good sense."  (See also the post "Semantic Consistency" on this blog)
"At this point, however, we must refer to the precise difference between these two complementary instances, common sense and good sense.  For while common sense is the norm of identity from the point of view of the pure Self and the form of the unspecified object which corresponds to it, good sense is the norm of distribution from the point of view of the empirical selves and the object qualified as this or that kind of thing (which is why it is considered to be universally distributed)." [p.169]
First of all, I think we have to look at both common sense and good sense as assumptions, since they are normally understood within a given community and often not made explicit. Common sense, then, would have to do with the commonly understood reference of a concept or diagram, the kinds of things it refers to or its extension; while good sense would have to do with commonly understood attributes or consequences of that concept or diagram.

Examples of common sense are not that difficult to come by.  For a concept like "market" the extension might (or might not) include farmers' markets, shopping markets, buying and selling in some kind of wholesale markets, stock markets, and so on.  And, of course, all sorts of games can be played by assuming one kind of reference while actually employing another.  But examples of good sense can't really be just any kind of attribute or consequence of the concept.  They have to be assumed, unquestionable, and taken as universal.  Donald MacKenzie (in in An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets) provides an example of good sense with regard to at least on kind of "market".
"Some are convinced that markets are sources of human freedom and prosperity; others believe markets to be damaging generators of alienation, exploitation and impoverishment. [p. 25]"
These to characterizations of "markets",  representing the "good sense" of different communities, are assumptions generally left implicit that can do as much to distort our understanding of the concept or what is said about it as any of the various assumptions made by common sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment