Is there a universal definition of common sense?

One of the ways I would describe a successful outcome of design thinking is "ingenious common sense". It seems that we want to develop a solution and that it might take some work to get to, but all along it turns out to be common sense. When we encounter something which makes us question - why would someone make/do this in  this way, such as my sophomore year dorms; two buildings in snowy Vermont which were connected by walking through the bathrooms. We can contemplate if this was some sort of forced co-ed mingling or an architect's  locker room revenge, but in the end it just seemed a bit stupid and certainly far from common sense. 

I am sure we can all come up with situations where we thought, "Someone actually paid someone to design this (product, service, place)???" and no doubt we have been on the opposite end too, in which we have forgotten something that should  have been obvious.  Now that I have been living in a different culture for the last four years I find myself asking this question everyday. I ask"Why do they do it this way, it does not make sense" but then maybe it just does not make sense to me.

Certainly we must allow for differences in cultures, not to mention poor choices.  How much do different cultures vary in their definition of common sense? Or do they just value it differently?  How do you gauge common sense?

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It seems to me that a person will tend to say something is common sense when a thing is so obvious to them that they think it should also be obvious to others. I've found this to be the case in Europe and in North America. Granted these are rather strongly related cultures, but that's my experience.

Personally, I discourage dependence on common sense in important matters because it assumes there is a common explanation.

I should note that I distinguish between common sense and other mental states like "intuition," "tacit knowledge," etc.
Dear Kristina,

I'd like to explain it not too academically as I replied on last March 6, 2010.

Within data / information domain, we still could measure quantitively “how much is our common sense” through probability-based metrics because we still could treat data / information as object. We called it as “well informed common sense”

But in knowledge domain, contrary to data and information, knowledge should exist inside human body resulting from emergent property of the human as complex (adaptive) system and behaving as subject. Here, “how much is our common sense” not relevant any more. We should make our common sense decision on possibility-based (Link ) . We called it as “knowledgeable common sense”

Therefore, it is not about matter of culture whatsoever, but certainly, the problem of common sensing is about where do you put yourself either in DI (Data – Information) domain or KW (Knowledge – Wisdom) domain. Or, it is just a matter of preferring probability vs possibility
I like this. I think the most important thing in this comment is that knowledge is an internal thing. You can't' put knowledge in a book; you can put info/data in a book. Knowledge is what happens when we act/think with information. Indeed, "knowledge" is a very difficult term to define anyways.... And all this has a lot to do with how we think of common sense.



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