Original Research

Sensus communis: The relevance of Medieval philosophy in the 21st century

Johann Beukes
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 4 | a5937 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i4.5937 | © 2020 Johann Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 January 2020 | Published: 17 June 2020

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Johann Beukes, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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This article addresses the underestimation of Medieval philosophy in the contemporary curriculum by engaging its very origins in the ‘postmodern’ dislocation of philosophy. The leading question is what would be the prospects in the 21st century of reorienting Western philosophy from its idea-historical sources, which would include its ancient traditions and the Medieval exposition, as well as the Renaissance elucidation thereof. Critically engaging the works of numerous ‘postmodern’ philosophers (Lyotard, Derrida, Foucault, Baudrillard, Virilio and Zizek) as well as critics of the ‘postmodern’ departure from traditional philosophy (Gadamer, Habermas, Jameson, Norris), this article argues for the re-establishment of the late Medieval notion of sensus communis, both as common sense and community sense. Against this backdrop, the article reappraises Medieval thought within the context of sensus communis to combat the contemporary dislocation of philosophy, by raising the possibility of the presentation of first-order judgments via sensus communis in a new pursuit for wijsbegeerte.


Jacques Derrida; Umberto Eco; Michel Foucault; Hans-Georg-Gadamer; Martin Heidegger; Fredric Jameson; Jean-Francois Lyotard; Medieval Philosophy; Christopher Norris; Sensus communis; Paul Virilio; wijsbegeerte; Slavoj Zizek


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