Instinct and Common Sense

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Instinct and common sense deny the economic proposition that a nation gains nothing by selling more than it buys, Fitzhugh says:

They say, that the way for individuals or people to get rich is to sell more than buy. Philosophy beats them all hollow in argument, yet instinct and common sense are right and philosophy wrong. Philosophy is always wrong and instinct and common sense always right, because philosophy is unobservant and reasons from narrow and insufficient premises, whilst common sense sees and observes all things, giving them their due weight, comes to just conclusions, but being busied about practical every day matters, has never learned the process of abstraction, has never learned how to look into the operations of its mind and see how it has come to its conclusions. It always judges rightly, but reasons wrong. It comes to its conclusions by the same processes of ratiocination that abstract philosophers do, but unaccustomed and untrained to look into its own mental operations, it knows not how it arrived at those conclusions. It sees all the facts and concludes rightly, — abstract philosophers see but a few, reason correctly on them, but err in judgment because their promises are partial and incorrect. Men of sound judgments, are always men who give wrong reasons for their opinions. They form correct opinions because they are practical and experienced; they give wrong reasons for those opinions, because they are no abstractionists and cannot detect, follow and explain the operations of their own minds. The judgment of women is far superior to that of men. They are more calm and observant. Every married man knows that when he places a scheme before his wife and she disapproves it, he conquers her in argument, goes away distrusting his own opinion, though triumphant, and finds in the end his wife was right, though she could not tell him why. Women have more sense than men, but they want courage to carry out and execute what their judgments commend. Hence men, although they fail in a thousand visionary schemes, succeed at last in some one, and are dubbed the nobler sex. An old bachelor friend of ours, says: women are great at a quarrel, bad at argument.

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