chapter  12
The unity of common sense and philosophy
Pages 7

The broad outlines of Gramsci’s groupings of types of intellection into a hierarchy of philosophy, religion, commonsense and folklore1 have already been foreshadowed in antithesis to Bukharin’s more ‘scientific’ and undiscriminating stance vis-a-vis popular beliefs as a whole and Gramsci’s scepticism about this position. For Gramsci these four groupings are categorially an incorporative developmental sequence as well as comprise levels of cultural integration in civil society each based in its own social stratum. Since he holds that “all men are philosophers” 2 because they realize or embody their world views in practice, he regards all the four categories as philosophy in a broad sense. The first one refers to the high-culture philosophy of professional philosophers and incorporates the other three trans­ cended within it. As we have seen, for Gramsci a sociology which is not a directly political sociology feeds on the apolitical residues of society and is thus^rivolous, so not surprisingly sociology does not figure in this schema; unlike economics, however, which he places along with the specialist sciences in general at the highest level along with philosophy.3 But the notebooks are fragmentary and this aspect of Gramsci’s thought is not very systematically worked out. As regards high-culture philosophy, he adds that since previous philosophy has “ left stratified deposits in popular philosophy” ,4 criticism of past philosophies has the effect of laying bare one’s own present con­ ception of the world in which traces of them are sedimented. It is only from the higher stage that these layers can be appropriated and seen to be philosophical. The difference between the professional, tech­ nical philosopher and the rest of mankind is not one of quality but one of quantity, i.e. the professional philosopher merely thinks more systematically, with “greater coherence”5 than the non-professional, who none the less thinks and acts with a conception of the world and is thus also a philosopher.