Explain how in both his Preface to the Dictionary and in his Preface to Shakespeare, Johnson exhibits the application of common sense to any matter.In relation to the apparently rather different...

Explain how in both his Preface to the Dictionary and in his Preface to Shakespeare, Johnson exhibits the application of common sense to any matter.

In relation to the apparently rather different topics of writing a dictionary and understanding Shakespeare.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The term common sense, in the 18th century, had technical philosophical implications which made it differ, to a degree, from the way we use it in the 21st century. The main source of the technical uses of the term  is Aristotle’s de Anima, which posits a ‘common sense’ that brings together information derived from the other 5 senses in a way such as to make them intelligible. By the early modern era, this begins to suggest innate capacities of humans to understand truths through immediate and common perceptions, using faculties innate to all people. In interpreting language and literature (Shakespeare and the dictionary), this leads to an approach based on the knowledge and understanding common to all people by virtue of shared innate mental structures, as opposed to the medieval systems of allegorical interpretation or other platonically influenced understandings common in the 17th century.

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