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Idealism vs. Common Sense

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By Scott Roberts
(This is a guest essay submitted to the Metaphysical Speculations Discussion Forum, reviewed, commented on and approved for publication by forum members. The opinions expressed in the essay are those of its author.)


It appears that many people find idealism implausible simply because it does not match up with what they consider to be common sense. Well, they are correct. If by "common sense" we mean our pre-philosophical understanding of what things are like—an understanding that is held in common with most everyone around us—then the philosophical name for that understanding is dualism. It is dualist in that it makes a distinction in our experience between controlled (or at least controllable) and uncontrolled, between what seems to come from within us and what seems to come from outside. The contents of our sense perceptions are uncontrolled, while our thinking, feeling, and acting is, or at least can be, under our control. Further, much that is not under…