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The 2021 theme for a french competitive philosophical exam is: "the common". I'm not sure the expression really makes sense in English. In French, it is the adjective "commun" ( English. common) used as a substantive.

Bibliographies that have been proposed by university departments so far concentrate on the political aspect of the notion: the common versus what is owned as an individual property. One very common notion of common in economics is the Tragedy of the Commons. Sociologists are very interested broadly in the notion of community. Other angles to investigate might be common sense and common knowledge. So the theme does not seem to have a real unity, but, rather, is split into as many forms of "common" as there are various subjects to which the term applies.

The problem I am asking is: Is there one fundamental problem linked to this notion, that is, to "the common" or " common-ness" as such?.

Which philosophers and theories reflect on the general idea of "common-ness" at the fundamental level, is there any ontological/metaphysical theory of "common-ness"?

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    Would you count the very old notions of "essence" and "nature"? In my book, they are classical metaphysics of "having something in common", often applied in epistemology and ethics as well. On the other hand, "shared" life-worlds, properties, etc. have been discussed in anthropological, linguistic, social, etc. strands of philosophy since the early 20th centrury. I am afraid that you will have to narrow it down since as it stands, as my examples should have shown, it is a very broad question with probably hundreds of legitimate answers. – Philip Klöcking Nov 14 '20 at 14:11
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    At a very basic level, that which exists (for us - and can possibly be known) is that which shares ontic features with us, ie. which "is" in a similar way or has a common mode of Being. How this can be taken to unfold has been described very fundamentally and at the same time completely differently over the centuries, and taken forms of solipsism, dualism, monism, and process ontologies. Spinoza has done a pretty decent job for monism, Plessner has a completely other take. But every systematic philosophy has something to say about levels and modes of "common-nes". – Philip Klöcking Nov 14 '20 at 14:20
  • @ Philip Klöcking - Thanks for your answer. (Also, are you referring to a book you have authored?) – Floridus Floridi Nov 14 '20 at 14:25
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    I would add at least two points: 4) Common hermeneutical background (shared life-worlds, culture) in the philosophy of language, and 5) common existential perspectives/ontic processes in the philosophical anthropology. And all these points can be filled with more aspects than mentioned. People like Spinoza and Heidegger add even more ontological notions of "common-ness" into the game. That's why the question is too broad. Oh, and "in my book" is simply an idiom meaning "in my opinion" ;) – Philip Klöcking Nov 14 '20 at 14:38
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    Btw, prize essays like these have deliberately ambiguous themes since what they want to see is original thinking instead of working the question in a common way (pun intended). So while one certainly can and should mention the common ways in which common-ness has been discussed, opening and unfolding all possible paths the thought could have taken, what makes a winner is discussing it in a way the jury did not expect and which is nevertheless relevant and profound. – Philip Klöcking Nov 14 '20 at 14:49

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