Uncommon Sense

A Theory of Human Purpose

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
232 Pages
Reviewed on 01/11/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose by J.R. Miller is not for the intellectually faint of heart. Self-purportedly a kind of academic dispatch from the margins of conventional humanistic understanding, because “through strong objectivity and the outsider-within phenomenon, marginalized individuals are placed in a unique position to point to patterns of behavior that those immersed in the dominant group culture are unable to recognize,” this meticulously developed argument/theory/proposal reads like a university dissertation. Miller is conscientious in preparing the reader for his paradigm-altering material, laying the groundwork early and inclusively for a discussion based primarily on the symbolic determinant of semiotics as a model for the world, for evolution, and ultimately for explaining the nature and potential of human purpose. Thus, all discussion becomes subsumed within his all-consuming: Subjective Annihilation Theory.

Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose is much too complex to summarize with some ultra-concise marketing throwaway tagline, and J.R. Miller has applied too much academic rigor to his thinking to simplify his theory with some offhand cliché remark. This treatise was prepared and presented with the precision and specificity of a legal brief or scientific paper, and any assessment of its content, arguments, or conclusions (especially regarding the many axioms presented as both the determinants and relative assumptions on which Miller’s methodology depends) demands and requires the commitment, accessibility, and pinpoint receptivity of a thoroughly, and hopefully interested party familiar with the subject. What may be stated with absolute certainty, however, is that Miller’s work is ultimately impressive, internally consistent, rationally cohesive, and mostly convincing. In the end, Uncommon Sense, even with its uncommonly cynical objectivity, makes a lot of sense.

Renee Guill

Uncommon Sense by JR Miller is an essay on the purpose of humans. JR Miller goes into detail using diagrams and references. The author uses a pyramid diagram to make it easier to see the concept. The diagram consists of Truth, Power and Good. JR Miller uses a Supernatural Power (God) and beliefs and nature, etc. First he discusses the methodology, then the analysis, then the conclusion, using other philosophers and lots of examples to amplify the discussion. There is a nice glossary and references at the end to help the reader as well.

I think Uncommon Sense by JR Miller was interesting. I just had trouble understanding it. I am afraid that my heart loves science, but my brain does not. I do like how the author explained it though, and used diagrams to make it easier to understand. I loved the term JR Miller used for (God); Supernatural Power is a fascinating idea. The format that JR Miller used made it easier to read. I thought the subject itself was fascinating, and lately I’ve been wondering what my purpose is. I admit this essay helped answer that question a little bit. I liked how the author quoted from philosophers too, to make a point. All in all, if you are okay with scientific words and concepts, then this essay is quite a fascinating read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone studying philosophy or human nature in college.

Ray Simmons

When I was in middle school, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek premiered on national television. As Mr. Spock might say, I was fascinated with it. In my enthusiasm, I went to my mother’s library to read more about “logic,” the driving philosophy behind the Vulcan species. So, I picked up a book by Emmanuel Kant called “The Philosophy of Pure Reason.” I wasn't ready for it. Every sentence required a supreme effort in order to simply understand it. It was my first attempt at reading philosophy, real philosophy, and I failed, which only caused me to want to understand it more. I wish my young self could have found Uncommon Sense by JR Miller instead. I feel I could have grasped what he was saying. It is so much more accessible for the common man, though it is by no means an “easy” or “simple” read. His points are just better explained. He instinctively knows where the reader may need more illumination and he provides it.

The best thing about Uncommon Sense is that it makes you think. Not only about your life, but about human society. I enjoyed the many quotes from great thinkers. They are sprinkled throughout the book and I include JR Miller in this list. I can’t help but share one: “We should begin acquiring new eyes to see and new ears to hear and to begin critically evaluating meaning while giving voice to our individual perspectives. We should be so compelled not only for the enlightenment of our individual lives, but as a social obligation so as to ensure that no song goes unsung in our pursuit of human purpose.” I feel this is the type of thinking that this world needs badly. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for those who ask themselves the deeper questions sometimes. Uncommon Sense was a pleasure to read.

K.C. Finn

Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose is a deeply intellectual and philosophical work of non fiction penned by author J.R. Miller. It reads very much like it might have been a doctoral thesis, its central argument concerning an exploration of dominant culture, the power of language in maintaining such culture, and the development of a new model to move towards a greater understanding of human purpose. This model, which Miller dubs his Subjective Annihilation Theory, encompasses a consideration of the symbolism of language and the attachments we make to words through language, and extends this idea as a wider metaphor for how we see the world through such linguistic terms.

This is not a book for those who are not involved closely with the theorists on which it is based, or are a little rusty with their academic thinking. I am fortunate, a doctoral student myself, that I had quite a bit of understanding of linguistics, culture and philosophy to be able to get through the work and see J.R. Miller’s excellent arguments and observations. I won’t pretend that I understood it all, such is his excellent level of rigor and broad consideration of wider reading, but the work was superbly well explained and the model he purports for the evolution and explanation of human purpose was a fascinating revelation based in some excellent groundwork. Overall, Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose will only appeal to a select few, but those few will not be disappointed by this deep and well researched thinking piece.

Mamta Madhavan

Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose by J.R. Miller is an insightful and thought provoking book that sheds light on human purpose and its implications in the field of human action. The author tackles this critical exploration using the lens of semiotics that is based in the Standpoint Theory. Unexamined lives are common today and, as the author rightfully points out, most of us are already in our graves from the time we are born. This book speaks about the importance of acquiring new eyes and ears to lend voice to our personal outlook so that, in the author's words, 'no song goes unsung' while we are pursuing human purpose. Reading this book will make us question everything and perceive life and existence in a different way.

The book is divided into three sections -- Methodology, Analysis, and Conclusion -- and will make us look beyond our conventional way of thinking and start thinking outside the box. The author's approach to a profound topic is simple and neat, and that makes it easy for us to comprehend the concept. He explains everything in detail and with a clarity that will make us contemplate human purpose and life in general. The diagrams and glossary at the end are helpful in making many things in the book clear to us and helping us connect better with the author's words. The topic is fresh and unique and that makes the book an interesting read. And as Socrates rightfully put it: “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Gisela Dixon

Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose by J.R. Miller is a non-fiction book on philosophy that puts forward the theory that human motivation derives from and is a function of human purpose, and investigates the way symbolism and symbolic language play a role in what we perceive as reality in our everyday world. In Uncommon Sense, J.R. Miller puts forward many interesting and thought-provoking theories and thoughts, not the least of which is the exploration of questions such as what is reality, exploring what subjectivity means, exploring truth in the face of the subjective fact that everything is relative, and various models and paradigms revolving around these. The book is brief but with plenty of rich content, and is split into chapters and sub-topics such as the Subjective Annihilation Theory, Axioms, the question of good and evil and the ultimate “Goodness,” a detailed analysis of Truth, Power, and Goodness in classic philosophical terms. It delves into related concepts such as political power and governments, gender equality and feminism, Ego, Communication, Potentiality, unSubjectivess as the higher intrinsic evolutionary goal, and so much more.

Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose by J.R. Miller is not an easy book to read, not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter itself. Although this is a fairly short book, it is deep reading and I can see myself going back to read it a second or even a third time to get the most out of it. It is also one of the most interesting books I have come across in a while and the ideas presented are original and truly thought-provoking, without any added “New Age” frills. Instead, these ideas are presented in stark and simple language which I very much appreciated. This writing style along with the solid philosophical subject matter itself make this book a delight for anyone interested in exploring these metaphysical topics.