The Common Sense Society (CSS) is an independent, non-partisan educational foundation active in the United States and Europe. CSS is funded exclusively by private and corporate donations and does not accept government grants or contracts. In recognition of our early achievements, CSS received the 2010 Templeton Freedom Award in social entrepreneurship, among an international pool of 132 nominated organizations.
The Common Sense Society celebrates the Western heritage, wherein the ideas of liberty and equality have been asserted, tested, and proven over the course of four millennia. This same history reveals that mankind does not progress inevitably toward freedom or justice. Indeed, many attempts to ignore history, deny human nature, and engineer a utopian vision have initiated some of the most horrific episodes in human memory. Because ideas have consequences, CSS continues the noble tradition of argumentation and debate by providing regular forums for the exchange of these ideas. We are not bystanders to the development of our civilization; we are participants in defining our future of sustainable freedom.
The term common sense was chosen because the Society wishes to promote sensible and eloquent dialogue in the political sphere, as opposed to reactionary and ideologically charged public discourse. The notion of common sense finds its earliest formulation in ancient Greece. The Greek word έμπειρία connoted that which could be understood through experiencing life. The Romans likewise understood sensuscommunis to connote sensibility and humanity. The Christian tradition presents a theological equivalent in the concept of “general” or “natural revelation” which understood the existence of morality and God to be self-evident in the material world. The most famous use of Common Sense occurred in 1776 when Thomas Paine, a British political theorist, published a pamphlet entitled “Common Sense Addressed to the Inhabitants of America” which set forth the case for American Independence from Great Britain. At the heart of his appeal was a belief that political ideals and practice must be joined. It was in this pivotal time when political ideals were being popularly acted upon to an extent not previously seen in history that Paine declared: “the cause of America is, in great measure, the cause of all mankind.”