American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 82, Issue 3, Summer 2008

Stephen J. Laumakis
Pages 429-443

The Sensus Communis Reconsidered

Although some philosophers accept an atomistic view of sense impressions, most acknowledge that we are aware not merely of isolated disparate sense data, but of concrete sensible wholes. One of many philosophical problems faced by these philosophers, however, is to explain how these distinct simultaneously presented sensible aspects are subjectively and objectively cognized as belonging to the same particular object. The traditional Thomistic solution is the sensus communis. Recently, however, the validity of that response has been called into question. As a result, the purpose of this paper is to sketch the positions involved in the debate, present St. Thomas’s account of the sensus communis, and argue that both the commentary tradition and a recent critic have overlooked an important aspect of that account.