The commonsense theory of knowledge (which I have also dubbed ‘the bucket theory of the mind’) is the theory most famous in the form of the assertion that ‘there is nothing in our intellect which has not entered it through the senses’. (I have tried to show that this view was first formulated by Parmenides—in a satirical vein: Most mortals have nothing in their erring intellect unless it got there through their erring senses.) 
Tag: common sense
The phenomenon of human knowledge is no doubt the greatest miracle in our universe. It constitutes a problem that will not soon be solved, and I am far from thinking that the preset volume makes even a small contribution to its solution. But I hope that I have helped to restart a discussion which for three centuries has been bogged down in preliminaries.
Since Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and their school, which includes not only David Hume but also Thomas Reid, the theory of human knowledge has been largely subjectivist: knowledge has been regarded as a specially secure kind of human belief, and scientific knowledge as a specially secure kind of human knowledge.
The essays in this book break with a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle—the tradition of this commonsense theory of knowledge. I am a great admirer of common sense which, I assert, is essentially selfcritical. But while I am prepared to uphold to the last the essential truth of commonsense realism, I regard the commonsense theory of knowledge as a subjectivist blunder. This blunder has dominated Western philosophy. I have made an attempt to eradicate it, and to replace it by an objective theory of essentially conjectural knowledge. This may be a bold claim but I do not apologize for it. [Preface]
If there is a single motivation for the world-view set out in this book, it is that thanks largely to a succession of extraordinary scientific discoveries, we now possess some extremely deep theories about the structure of reality. If we are to understand the world on more than a superficial level, it must be through those theories and through reason, and not through our preconceptions, received opinion or even common sense. Our best theories are not only truer than common sense, they make far more sense than common sense does. We must take them seriously, not merely as pragmatic foundations for their respective fields but as explanations of the world. And I believe that we can achieve the greatest understanding if we consider them not singly but jointly, for they are inextricably related.
It may seem odd that this suggestion – that we should try to form a rational and coherent world-view on the basis of out best, most fundamental theories – should be at all novel or controversial. Yet in practice it is. One reason is that each of these theories has, when it is taken seriously, very counter-intuitive implications. Consequently, all sorts of attempts have been made to avoid facing those implications, by making ad hoc modifications or reinterpretations of the theories, or by arbitrarily narrowing their domain of applicability, or simply by using them in practice but drawing no wider conclusions from them. I shall criticize some of these attempts (none of which, I believe, has much merit), but only when this happens to be a convenient way of explaining the theories themselves. For this book is not primarily a defence of these theories: it is an investigation of what the fabric of reality would be like if they were true. [ix]