Common Sense Book Summary - Common Sense Book explained in key points
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Common Sense summary

Thomas Paine

The book that launched a revolution

3.8 (202 ratings)
8 mins
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    Common Sense
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    Human existence depends on helping each other, which gives rise to societies and rules to guide them.

    How many people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Truthfully speaking, probably just one. While simple tasks of household maintenance can be accomplished alone, many other jobs in life require us to enlist the help of others.

    That’s because to realize their potential, humans need to live and work with other people. Just consider how many things we’re required to do that rely on others for their success. In the author’s time, the late 18th century, that might have meant moving logs, building a house or plowing a field. Today, it’s reflected in effective product design that demands a team effort, or a delicate surgery requiring a group of doctors.

    But societies don’t come about just to simplify tasks requiring many hands; they also exist because we rely on others for survival at difficult times. For example, when we get sick, we need other people to take care of us.

    Imagine living in the author’s time and coming down with a high fever. With nobody to bring you water you’d die. While in modern times this threat is much less common, we still rely on people to bring us food and pick up our prescriptions when we’re sick.

    It’s for this reason that we’re all invested in society prospering, and that means having guidelines. Why?

    Because nobody except God is without vices and flaws. Moral shortcomings have been part and parcel of being human since we were expelled from the garden of eden.

    This immoral impulse, an inherent part of our existence, causes us to harm others, since we disregard their well-being in favor of our own success. The danger of this threat necessitates rules in any human society; these are laws – statutes that govern how to behave and treat one another.

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    What is Common Sense about?

    When it was originally published, Common Sense (1776) came in the form of a pamphlet, which George Washington read to his troops during the American Revolutionary War. These blinks are a window into the political mind of one of America’s founding fathers, and will explain the logic that led to the American revolution, as well as to the establishment of an entirely new government.

    Best quote from Common Sense

    In the early ages of the world there were no kings; and there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.

    —Thomas Paine
    example alt text

    Who should read Common Sense?

    • Anyone interested in the origins of America’s political identity and constitution
    • Politically engaged people who want to better understand the roots of American foreign policy

    About the Author

    Thomas Paine was born in England in 1737 and, sponsored by Benjamin Franklin, moved to the Americas two years before publishing Common Sense. He was a founding father of the United States and was deeply involved in the political life of the young country. His other titles include The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason.

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