Dec 31, 2018 | Joseph A. Bailey II MD.

As a boy, with a huge newspaper route, I spent much time talking with my all-Black community customers. Particularly from ex-Slaves, I learned they were not allowed to read, write, or count—and, apart from hard work and daily, there was nothing in their lives to create diversions. Yet, I discerned a purity in our conversations unlike any heard from other customers. Slavery enhanced their African Ma’at values e.g. Unconditional Love, Humanity, Harmony, Truth, Peace, and Goodness—which were extremely bonding. I “Felt” the aura of these as natural and effortless in our conversations. Now, I conclude they were Pre-Birth Emotions expressions, derived from “Feeling” the right things to do within their horrible Slavery Setting—absent acquired emotions. Meanwhile, their Pre-Birth Intellect determined the ‘right’ who, which, what, when, where, why, and how times and place to do the most likely to work for their in-most protection, defense, and stability. From subsequent research within this context, I concluded the ‘big picture’ of Common Sense in African Tradition concerns “Humanity Goodness.” These are Spiritual terms which reflect doing Integrity Right Life Living Hard Work, in keeping with humans made in God’s likeness. In expanding research to include European concepts, I was amazed at their entirely different focus. And for any Afrocentric thinker, it makes no sense. The following comparisons give ideas as to why I recommend all Afrocentric people avoid all European concepts on any significant issue. Ancient Greeks saw “Common sense” as beliefs, opinions, and practical understanding of things shared by the “common man.” Aristotle’s main focus, kept to C14, was on a supposed internal sense. It was said to be common to all senses–or one sense acting as a link between them. Then, in England and later, the USA, common sense concerned being good, sound.

That sense of “general sagacity” went into English law. Here, Common (‘sense’) Law was defined as: “generally derived from principles rather than rules; it does not consist of absolute, fixed, and inflexible rules, but rather of broad and comprehensive principles based on justice, reason, and common sense . . . Its principles have been determined by the social needs of the community and have changed with changes in such needs.  These principles are susceptible of adaptation to new conditions, interest, relations, and usages as the progress of society may require.” (Gifis, Law Dictionary, p. 37). In theory, it followed the exact pattern as had been laid out in Ancient Africa. “Common Sense,” written by Thomas Paine, is one of the urtexts (original texts of the “last word” type) of USA democracy–the match that lit the fuse of independence in 1776 for the would-be nation of four million people.  It was used by Thomas Jefferson as a template for writing the Declaration of Independence, especially Paine’s ideas of the natural dignity of humanity and the right to self-determination.  One reason “Common Sense” became so instrumental was its appearance in a society having no mass media, no entertainment/industrial complex, and nothing to compete with the urgency of Paine’s message calling for immediate separation from England.  Furthermore, Paine wrote in the vernacular  to speak to people in their own language, for purposes of developing a truly democratic style. Outside Western civilization’s legal system, common sense remained rooted in widely shared views and interpretations formed on traditional beliefs/theories—with none solidly based. Thus, its ingredients included a large number of beliefs  birthed by superstition, ignorance, and often discarded theories of old-time scholars–but whose wrong beliefs were retained by the common people.  In Western C18-C19 academic circles, much debate concerned the nature of perceptions, general principles, and distinctions between common sense and philosophy, if any. Agreements on any aspect were rare.

Today, an Afrocentric generally accepted definition, is: “specialized Spiritual ‘Feelings’ integrated with organized thoughts to give a practical understanding of how to live within life’s everyday problems. Its tools are exercises of the senses and memory; characterized by a sense of practicality, based upon experience of the most fundamental and pervasive character. The simplest kind of reasoning develops, not from inquiry, but from living. In contrast, ancient China somewhat modeled African Tradition by no one trying very hard to think and, instead, all trying very hard to live by means of intimate “Feelings” of life.


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