On Judging and Judgment

I judge. You judge. We all judge, even when we aren’t aware of it and won’t admit that we’re doing it.

Everyone makes judgments, assessments, appraisals and evaluations if they are at all cognitively capable of interacting with the world and the people in it.

What does it mean to judge, and is this necessarily a bad thing to do?

Few, I hope, would disagree that prejudice, a form of judgment that by definition is made on hasty or at least ill-informed reasoning, is something to avoid when we can, or at least try to mitigate by coming to understand the subject of our prejudice.

Postjudice, on the other hand, a judgment rendered after the data is in, while it should never be considered final and timeless truth, is much more acceptable, and useful, unlike it’s evil twin.

Judgment in some form, fair or unfair, cannot be avoided. It’s simply not possible to meet people, or hear of them, or notice their behavior, and not judge them, no matter how distasteful we may find it personally and try to hide it from ourselves.

Criticism of any kind entails the act of judgment, of assessing a claim made by someone, in pointing out fallacies in reasoning or possible deficiencies in facts, in fairness using said criticism to enhance the rigor of a discussion and justify our confidence in the constructive outcome of an argument.

Even when we criticize someone for passing judgment, silently to ourselves or to others, we are ourselves passing judgment. To judge, to be able to judge, is part of the human condition.

Most of what I come across on fringe websites and discussion forums involves the admonition of “Don’t Judge,” mostly by theists and spiritualists who don’t like their claims — and when sincere in these claims, their precious beliefs — subjected to any sort of, to them, sacrilegious scrutiny.

It’s typical of some with a relativist philosophy who ostensibly consider all views to have their own equally valid truth, and among those of an absolutist world view who see only their own perspective as valid, but admit it openly, who are often themselves quick to judge the claims and beliefs of others, even secretly, who show thin skins indeed over even the fairest of critiques, considering their own ideas off-limits and showing great offense when this holy ground is crossed.

But subjectivist, objectivist, or absolutist, none of these approaches to knowledge necessarily excludes dogmatism or intolerance, even those normally associated in the public mind with tolerance and pluralism.

When our own views are questioned, the more certainly those views are held, the more passionately opinionated we are about these views, the less objective we are about the matters they concern, and the more intolerant we are, the less likely we are to question them nor wish to allow others to do so.

The right to believe, and to express that belief is to me inalienable, but the special privilege to protect one’s claims, no matter how ridiculous, or at least mistaken, against all factual and logical examination, to shield them from all conceivable criticism, is not.

For it is those ideas that are the most absurd which require just that sort of protection, because they cannot stand on their own merits. No one’s unproven ideas should get a free pass.

For all the talk of ‘love and light,’ and ‘blessed be,’ many purveyors of nonsense are not nice people when it comes down to it, and to condemn others for criticism and cry ‘intolerance’ while simultaneously vilifying, even demonizing, one’s critics is at best inconsistent and at worst abject self-righteous hypocrisy.

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2 thoughts on “On Judging and Judgment

  1. Pingback: Grow a Thick Skin « Bless My Hustle

  2. Pingback: Grow a Thick Skin | Bless My Hustle

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