Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Common Sense" and Ideology

Deleuze's distinction between common sense and good sense goes back, through Descartes, to Aristotle's faculty of common sense.  However, philosophers and politicians since the Age of Revolution have looked at "common sense" more like what might be called "commonly accepted good sense."  Common sense to them were things like self-evident truths, commonly accepted judgements such as "all men are created equal," with little or no worry about the prevalent common sense of the times that "men" only applied to white, propertied males.
Common sense, as I understand it, is the standard by which diagrams or concepts are applied to experience.  But what of commonly accepted good sense?  Where does this fit within the context of diagrammatic thinking?  If we return to Mackenzie's two (good) senses of "market" — as a source of freedom and prosperity on the one hand and a source of exploitation and impoverishment on the other — one or the other those characterizations can become the standard for judging any and all uses of the concept.  The good sense understanding will then determine appropriate applications (if this thing is not a source of freedom and prosperity, it is not a "market"); the viability of any consequences drawn from the concept (if the consequences of this concept do not reflect exploitation and poverty, they are false); while the internal consistency of the concept will be rendered all but irrelevant.

This, I propose, is what distinguishes ideology from other varieties of diagrammatic thought.  Ideological thinking answers to a commonly accepted notion of good sense, to how the thing should be characterized rather than how it works.  The standard of thought shifts from a diagrammatic assessment or conceptual analysis to the ingenuity by which thought can be brought in line with a particular assertion of good sense.  Thought becomes, first and foremost, a matter of loyalty.