An Essay Featured In The Map Is Indestructible
If I thought you were crazy, how would you prove your sanity? Would you show me your college degree? Lots of crazy people are rather intelligent. Would you take me to lunch and ask about my family? Clearly you would only be doing that to trick me into thinking you were normal (proving that you’re not only insane, but also deceptive). Would you try to prove me wrong by claiming you were trustworthy? But everything you say is a lie, and since you won’t admit your shortcomings, it’s apparent that you’re also arrogant. How would you prove you weren’t prideful? By working as a janitor for a year? But you’d only be doing that to prove how selfless you were, taking pride in your humility. You’d be faking humility, as does any arrogant crazy person who’s unwilling to admit their insanity.
Humans want to understand the world. Consequently, to keep from being overwhelmed, we look for patterns and form mental structures in(to) which to fit and comprehend experiences. To grasp unknowns rather than be wrestled down by them, we naturally compartmentalize and categorize the people around us as “kind,” “arrogant,” etc. Unfortunately, once we judge an individual to “be” a certain way, we tend to put that person into an inescapable “box” while we simultaneously place before our eyes a pair of glasses. If we judge an individual as “untrustworthy,” for example, everything that person does will be seen through that lens. If we will not give that individual a second chance until he or she earns our trust, that person might never succeed, for we will never witness the individual doing anything through our lens that warrants trust: the person is arranged for failure from the start (the same logic applies if we deem someone as insane, manipulative, evil, etc.).
When people judge, it’s hard to convince them that their judgment is invalid, for they often see evidence through their lens that supposedly validates it. For parents who put too much stock in their children (for example), it can be very difficult to make them think objectively about their kids. Being “objective” is a difficult task for any of us, for all of us are constantly engaged in fashioning subjective systems that justify our perspectives about the world and the people in it.
Facts become evidence when they are directed toward a claim or case. As perceptive pattern-finders, it is human nature to transform phenomena into evidence within a preset complex or hypothesis of our choosing. Evidence is never innocent, per se, which is to say “it’s never undirected,” but rather it’s always drafted into justifying a case of the perceiver’s interest and choosing. Evidence is “information with toward-ness.” If I overhear you mispronounce a word, I probably wouldn’t pay any attention to it. However, if when I heard the mispronunciation I was already thinking that you were unintelligent, the error would easily function as evidence justifying my theory. A judgment primes me to be on the lookout for evidence, which makes me more confident in my judgment, even though its foundation is subjective, arbitrary, and perhaps wrong.
Humans naturally build “mental systems” into which they fit experiences for the sake of comprehension. If we decide people are “kind,” we understand all their actions as “pointing to” their “kindness.” If we decide football is a bad sport, all the tackles and hoopla function as evidence proving that the sport is a waste of time. What experiences “prove” is relative to the system a person is consciously or subconsciously trying to justify. Data that doesn’t “prove” what a person expects to be the case tends to be ignored or overlooked in favor of data that confirms preset complexes. Also, while erecting a system of (for example) “I am stupid,” a person usually doesn’t simultaneously beget a system of “I am smart”: a person tends to create only one system into which only one kind of evidence can fit, leaving out data that could invalidate the system. Lastly, data is “framed” in such a way that it is always “read” in favor of and “toward” the reader’s position, and when this tendency is used to view oneself or other people, serious problems can result.
For this paper, to assess is to identify a phenomenon; to judge, to create a framework in and through which to interpret phenomena. To assess is to identify something an individual did, while to judge is to fashion an identity from individual actions. Generally, if someone lies to us, to say, “You lied,” is to assess, while to say, “You’re a liar,” is to judge. Of course, these two sentences, depending on the context, can signify the other: it cannot be discerned from the sentence structure alone if someone is judging or assessing, for that is a matter of disposition, not simply language (though language can suggest an orientation). To christen someone “a liar” is to fashion a framework through which to interpret all that person does and says, while to assess that “someone lied” isn’t to fashion such an identity and corresponding lens.
Judgment and assessment both perhaps stem from the desire to define the good from the bad, the perfect from the imperfect, etc. — a “desire to define” and/or “desire to organize” that follows us wherever we go and in whatever we do (we must make sense of the world, after all). We naturally divide, and if we re-synthesize, we can grow from this division; however, if we divide and leave apart, we can lessen ourselves and others. All of us have a concept of how things should be versus how they shouldn’t be, and there is nothing wrong with identifying errors or wrongs. However, it is misguided to view others through a negative lens, for this is to act as if everything they do is wrong. People, in fact, are a mixture of goodness and badness, and if we engage with them as if they are totally bad or totally good, we engage with an abstraction. To abstract the world is to disembody ourselves out of it, likely into alienation and error.
To be judgmental is to define an individual’s identity from what an individual does, while to assess is to simply take in what an individual does. To jump from saying, “He did something arrogant,” to “He is arrogant,” is to jump from an assessment to a judgment, from identifying actions in of themselves to determining identity from actions. It is philosophically mistaken to confuse what a thing “is” with what a thing “does,” and it is this confusion which leads to trouble, for if we think a person “does something arrogant,” this will not necessarily result in us seeing everything the person does as arrogant unless we conclude the person “is arrogant.” In judgment, our assessment of a person’s being becomes a lens through which we decipher and understand all that person does, while assessments of single encounters and events unto themselves are simply to engage with reality. There is nothing wrong with assessing that an individual “did” something wrong (assuming that is indeed the case), though there is something problematic with concluding a person “is” wrong.
If I say, “You are a good person,” I am judging you just as much as if I were to say, “You are arrogant.” Judgments can be kind, yet kind judgments can be as dangerous as malicious ones, for if I conclude my son is a “well-behaved kid,” I can cease to be dispassionate about what he does. When he messes up in school, I might overlook it and forgo an opportunity to help him improve. Similarly, if I conclude my son is “impractical,” when he writes a brilliant song, I might disregard his achievement and encourage my son to waste his artistic gift. Furthermore, the longer we judge people, the more evidence we likely feel we have “proving” that people are indeed how we judge them. But a hundred years of data can never totally justify a system or judgment; at best, in line with the work of David Hume, the data can contribute to a certain probability of how an individual is like, but the data can never confirm the individual is indeed the way we think. Unfortunately, this means the longer I judge someone and the more supposed evidence I accumulate, the more I become susceptible to the “Overconfidence Effect.”¹
Also called “miscalibration,” the Overconfidence Effect is when a person’s confidence in his or her judgment increases without the accuracy of that judgment growing alongside it. This usually occurs when an individual, especially an expert, is given more information about a subject. The more evidence a person receives that “proves” his or her judgment about another, the more confident that person becomes that he or she is right. As “evidence” mounts and over-confidence grows, the harder it becomes to get the individual to stop being judgmental (for the surer that person becomes that he or she is doing the right thing by maintaining that judgment). Crises caused by over-confidence can be worse than those caused by ignorance, for the over-confident take more risks, while the ignorant don’t tend to know how to be bolder and remain silent, feeling doubt that there is something to say.
‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged’, for the tendency to judge others is eventually turned on the judger’s self.² Then, ‘with the measure [the judger used]’, the judger measures his or her self.³ In this way, judgment not only threatens our relationship with others, but also our relationship with ourselves. No one is perfect, so everyone is prone to self-judgment, and upon realizing fallibility, we may experience guilt, spreading and accelerating self-judgment. If someone asks me for a cup of coffee and the person calls me stupid when I admit that I forgot to buy some from the store, I will easily be tempted to think “I am stupid” versus “I did something stupid.” Since “I am” not reducible to a simple quality, to identify myself “as stupid” is to abstract myself out of the world. Disembodied, I have now created a lens through which to view the world and myself. Consequently, since the mind naturally divides, dichotomizes, and judges, I will likely start seeing lots of evidence confirming that I am indeed “stupid”: I’ll start noticing the words I always mispronounce, I’ll realize I didn’t set the table right, etc. — and further fear and guilt will set in. Eventually, I will conclude “objectively” that I have “proven” my stupidity and descend into a self-justifying “loop of despair.”
There is nothing wrong with self-assessment, but self-judgment is a threat to our wellbeing. The line between the two is thin and takes vigilance to keep from crossing, but that vigilance is necessary, for it is dangerous to judge that “there is something wrong with me.” Once this judgment is done (and “the glasses have been put on”), the individual will likely come to see ever-more evidence that there is indeed something wrong with his or her self. Primed to be self-critical, when someone asks a girl (for example) why she cut her hair, she’ll be tempted to take this comment as criticism rather than a question, especially if the girl sees any kind of “displeased look” on the asker’s face. Even if the asker was just wondering, the girl who cut her hair may go through the day remembering the exchange as “evidence” that she is stupid. After hundreds of similar exchanges and inevitable human mistakes, the girl may fall into despair.⁴ In this place of depression, if a friend tells the girl that “it’s all in your mind,” the girl might shake her head, convinced that she has witnessed hundreds of examples of evidence proving her friend wrong.⁵ She won’t listen not because she’s stubborn, but because she believes that she knows substantial counterevidence, that to think otherwise would be to deny reality. The sadness the girl then incurs could make it seem as if she was right when she first said, “There is something wrong with me,” when in fact it was the judgment that led her down the road to make it thus. The words beget the facts before the words referred to facts. In coming to believe a false version of reality, the girl could fall into self-deception, yet be confident in her incorrect perspective, consequence of “the paradox of judgment.”
Judgment incurs self-deception, as self-deception incurs judgment. It is to abstract ourselves, a disservice, but if we’ve judged ourselves and others for years, how to do we stop and switch to the state of “openness” and diligence that assessment entails? Judgment eventually becomes a habit, and like all habits, it requires time to break and change. If we want to break the habit of eating sweets, then whenever we see desert, we must make a point to resist the craving. If we do this long enough, eventually we won’t even desire sweets, and in fact will be repulsed by the thought; instead, we might crave vegetables. Similarly, whenever a judgmental thought appears in our mind, we must resist the temptation to entertain it with both our thoughts and actions. This will be hard at first, but eventually we can break the habit of judgment, and furthermore come to feel repulsed by judgmental thoughts.
‘And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’
To judge ourselves can be as abstracting and unhealthy as judging others. It should be noted that Matthew 7:4–5 does not say that we shouldn’t assess the fact that there is a speck in another person’s eye, only that we shouldn’t judge another for having such a speck. To assess is to “see clearly,” while to judge is to be blinded by a “plank” (of abstraction or self-deception). To undergo self-deception is to give up our life ‘to the dogs’, and to throw the pearls of our identity before abstracting swine.⁶ Keep in mind that when self-deceived and stuck in a “loop” of despair, we are a swine to ourselves (also note that if a pig were to eat pearls, the pig would die).⁷
We cannot help ourselves until we see ourselves in the right light: we cannot remove a speck until we remove the plank. Until the speck in our eye is removed, we can only judge and assess ourselves wrongly. To judge ourselves is to put a speck in our eye: the act in which we attempt to remove a speck is the act that inserts a plank. Likewise, the act of judging another to remove a speck is the act of inserting a plank into our own eye, which renders us incapable of removing the speck, for the act robs us of the capacity to “see clearly.” This is because to judge is to be judgmental, which, in being an act that abstracts us out of the world, is wrong.
Until we take the plank out of our own eye, we cannot help our neighbor remove the speck from his or hers. We cannot readily help others if we are despairing, and we cannot help others if we only help our ideas of others. It’s loving to remove specks, but it’s harmful to try to help others when we can’t clearly identify with what they need help. A blind person who wants to help us across a busy street can help us but only so much; likewise, a judgmental person is unable to help others, despite how much he or she may want to help. Regardless how well-intended, adamant, and loving a blind person might be, that individual is likely not capable of helping us cross a busy street. When it comes to helping others, to be judgmental is to be blind. Yet if one doesn’t assess, a person won’t identify the problems that need to be addressed. Assessment is arguably necessary but keeping it from slipping into judgment is difficult (and few of us likely do it well).
If we decide out of good intent that it is our role to remove specks from the eyes of others, we will likely see specks everywhere. We will also probably see lots of evidence “proving” that we need to remove these specks and that we don’t have a plank in our own eye. Like a reporter whose job is to find stories or a police officer who is required to give out a certain number of speeding tickets every month, we will have donned a lens that will likely show us what we are out to find. When we go to remove those specks, we might see evidence proving that what we are doing is an act of love and/or wisdom, but such will not be the case.⁸ Having a plank in our eye, we won’t notice.
To judge a person is to fashion an idea of another; to assess an individual is to seek an understanding of their true self. Judgment is stagnant, assessment malleable. We should generally extend the people around us the benefit of the doubt and assume the best, and we should assess others toward the good, not the bad. Since we must start with some premise, we should assume the good is the norm, the bad the exception. If a person harms us though, we shouldn’t pretend like they didn’t, nor think that if we acknowledge errors that we must be judgmental. We can send a person to jail without calling them evil or being hateful.
In the name of love, we can judge and gossip under a mask of “care” and “concern,” and trap others within inescapable systems of our judgment (which, in turn, can cause others to trap themselves within the systems we’ve outlined for them). The difficulty is that we might need to remove specks from the eyes of those around us, and yet we must at the same time not judge. This task requires wisdom and patience, for we must come to self-reflect on our own words and actions, all while keeping in mind that no one thinks they are judgmental (for if they did, they would stop). Such “spotlessness” too can be a judgment and system we erect around ourselves, one which we can find lots of evidence to justify and “prove.”
We must assess reality, but not judge unless we fashion an abstraction in which we might unknowingly dwell. If we judge, we likely self-delude ourselves into an understanding of the world and those around us that lacks reality, yet the whole reason we judge is to determine what’s real. Ironically, judgment leaves us in an isolating abstraction.
¹Discovered by Howard Raiffa and Marc Alpert.
²Allusion to Matthew 7:1.
³Allusion to Matthew 7:2.
⁴This is especially likely if the girl is prone to making “emotional judgments,” is introverted, and/or is surrounded by individuals prone to voicing preferences. To voice a preference is to create a possibility for error, for once voiced, it is possible for a person to not fulfill that preference. If we voice a preference for “vanilla ice cream” (for example), it is now possible for a person to grab a flavor of ice cream that disappoints us; had we rather said, “I’ll take anything,” we would have saved the person with whom we are speaking from the possibility of self-criticism. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t have preferences, only that if our preferences aren’t met, we likely should smile and be grateful for what we have been given. With a simple statement like “but I wanted vanilla,” we may send a person deeper into their loop of despair.
4.1 Self-judgment is especially likely when dealing with for what there is actually no set answer (but which regardless may be prescribed a right answer). If a person is prone to think “there is something wrong with me” upon failing to get the “right coffee,” since there is no such thing as the “right coffee,” failure was inevitable from the start. Preferences, for example, are subjective and even fickle, and if we begin thinking “there is something wrong with me” when we encounter preferences, tastes, likes, etc., it is inevitable that we eventually “do something wrong.” However, since preferences are subjective, there is no hard basis from which to conclude “I am wrong” or that a set answer is right. As morality lacks objectivity unto itself (though it doesn’t necessarily lack practicality), self-criticism and even self-exultation lack “objectivity.” Therefore, to judge oneself as “wrong” is never justified (even though the speaker of the judgment may think the statement is backed by evidence and observation).
4.2 If a person keeps talking about how their heart is broken, eventually it will be broken, and hence it will seem that the person always spoke truly, when it was the speaking the made it so.
⁵We are less likely to remember evidence that opposes a hypothesis of our own making than evidence that “proves” it. If we theorize, “I am stupid,” we will remember the instance in which we forgot to do something more so than the instances in which we made profound points about Plato. Once we theorize and create a system into which to fit phenomena, thereby changing them into evidence, we naturally disregard the phenomena that don’t fit. The more an individual despairs, the more difficult it becomes for a person to remember what opposes that despair.
⁶Allusion to Matthew 7:6.
⁷Based on a line of thought found in The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
⁸If we have a plank in our eye and go to remove the speck from someone else’s, the person we are out to help might be squeamish and deny our judgment. This could prove to us that the person indeed has a speck in their eye and motivate us even more to help them. If the person tells us that there is a plank in our eye, we might be motivated even more.
1. As described in “Read(er)” by O.G. Rose, humans are “readers” and “read” everything: we “read” atoms into chairs, humans into arrogance, etc. Humans perpetually “read’ entities into being, which means humans are always primed to erroneously “read into” things. Our tendency to “read into” things constantly threatens our peace of mind, and once we slip from “reading” to “reading into,” we can slip from assessing to judging. Judgment threatens peace, while assessment can preserve and authenticate peace.
2. Accurate assessment requires something like “objectivity,” which requires truth, and a key way to determine truth is to remove fear…
3. As “constant conjunction” can never be advanced into a universal law (according to David Hume), instances of observing “he is lying” can never rationally be expanded to “he is a liar.” (Judgment is never rational.)
4. If a person requires that his or her trust be earned, the individual has easily created a system in which nothing another ever does will warrant receiving trust. For example, if to receive trust a person must get a new job, once he does so, since he “didn’t do it sooner,” trust might not be given to him. To create a system in which a person must earn trust is easily to create a system that will provide lots of “evidence” that a person shouldn’t receive trust, and it will seemingly prove that the person who created the system was wise to make the system in the first place. As evidence mounts, the creator of the system will become increasingly confident in his or her judgment that the person who the system was erected around is untrustworthy (though the accuracy of the assessment will not increase as does the evidence).
4.1 Upon concluding “objectively” that a person is untrustworthy, we may go and seek council from family members, friends, or people in the surrounding community on how to deal with this individual before “something bad happens,” failing to realize that we might have begun engaging in gossip. Gossip and judgment can follow and cause one another.
4.2 Judgment inherently self-deceives (and vice-versa). Self-deception is probable when trust is lost. The topic of trust is pertinent to the topic of judgment and will be expanded upon in “On Trust.”
5. It is important to make assessments in such a way that those around us don’t think we are being judgmental. Perception is reality. If those around us are in a “loop of despair,” perceiving us as judgmental will result in those individuals backing away from us, which will render us increasingly incapable of loving them and of being loved ourselves.
6. To judge is to separate, and condemnation tends to follow separation. To not judge is to practice “I don’t know”-ness — a risk.
7. To judge is to “cut off,” abstract, and/or dichotomize. To judge is to “make a duality of,” similar to “reading” (see “Read(er)”) and “thinking” (see “On Thinking and Perceiving”). Love, on the other hand, can be to be “toward” a non-dichotomized existence — or not.
8. As there is a distinction between judgment and assessment, there is also a distinction between worry and awareness (or concern and care). Judgment, in dichotomizing reality, abstracting entities out of the world, and fashioning lenses through which inescapable “loops” are fashioned, tends to beget worry, stress, and fear. On the other hand, assessment begets awareness. To stress, worry, and fear is to confuse life with death, but to fail to think about tomorrow is to set oneself up to be blindsided by reality. To be aware about tomorrow is to be “care-full,” but to fear tomorrow is to be “concerned.” Care is good, but concern is unhealthy. The terms “care” and “concern” are often used interchangeably, as are “judgment” and “assessment,” but it is important to maintain a distinction between these terms in order to avoid confusion.
9. The modern might constantly ask for proof. This seems like a reasonable demand, but it’s only rational if all truth claims can be verified or justified by what humans consider “proof.” If not, then it isn’t always rational to ask for proofs, but how can we know if all truths can be proven? Well, we’d have to know all truths and what constitutes those truths. Since this is impossible, humans can never rationally decide that all truths must be proven, nor can humans be sure that it is always reasonable to ask for proof. The demand might be rational in one instance and irrational in another (not that humans could always tell which was which or when).
Also, since all proof is set within a preset schema, if I ask for proof but do not share the same schema as the person of whom I’m making the request, then I might throw out valid evidence simply because I lack the framework in which to comprehend it. A framework functions as a translator that translates evidence into something a person can understand; without this translator, the evidence comes across as nonsense. As Chinese isn’t nonsense though it may seem that way to someone who doesn’t understand the language, evidence that is considered nonsensical isn’t necessarily invalid. There is such a thing as nonsensical Chinese, but a person would need to know Chinese to recognize it. Likewise, to determine if evidence is valid or not, a person must approach it with the appropriate framework. The same can be said regarding assessment: a person must step into the system of the person assessing to determine the probability of the assessment’s accuracy, as a person assessing must step into the system of the one being assessed to determine the probability of the assessment’s validity.
Unfortunately, when the modern asks for proof, he can be disingenuous and simply trying to disregard the presented claim. In not being genuine, the demander of proof isn’t willing to approach whatever proof is presented through the framework in which the proof is translated into sensibility. This is especially common if a person is trying to convince another to act. Demands for “formal studies,” for example, can be used as excuses to moralize inaction.
9.1 A similar point to this one can be found in “A Point from Probability” by O.G. Rose
10. As evidence has “toward-ness” when used to “justify something,” so do memories when recalled to “remember something.” As evidence can be misconstrued when “toward” something, so memories can transform themselves to fit into the account, story, or schema of the one doing the remembering. As memory tends to leave out what doesn’t match the preset complexes of the person doing the recalling, so too evidence tends to be left out that doesn’t fit into the preset frameworks. This phenomenon likely intensifies when humans summon memories in order to prove something.
10.1 Since memory is alive, objectivity is difficult, and self-delusion likely. If we are judged as “crazy,” those around us might suddenly begin remembering instances in which we seemed insane, thus providing evidence for the case. We ourselves might even begin remembering instances of mental breakdown, yet none of these memories may have any reality. Memory is hard to trust, but without memory, we lack grounding for identity. Remembering that memory is organic is key to being “objective” about it. Likewise, remembering that we transform what we experience in ways that make phenomena fit into our preset complexes will help us be objective about the world in which we reside. However, if we begin worrying that our memories are deceiving us, we may collapse into paranoia and enter a “loop” of despair.
11. As there is a distinction between judgment and assessment, worry and awareness, there is also a distinction between pride and “proud-ness.” Pride is often said to come before a fall, but this kind of pride shouldn’t be confused with proud-ness (of course, the terms are often used as similes, so it is important to pay attention to context). To be prideful is to say, “I am smart”; to be proud is to say, “I am proud of your intelligence.” Pride fashions a lens (being judgmental) while proud-ness is an assessment. To be proud of one’s children is not the same as taking pride in them: the first is to acknowledge them positively, while the latter is to derive a sense of self-value from them. Though the latter seems innocent, it sets a parent up to rely on his or her children for self-worth. Also, to be prideful results in one seeing lots of evidence that he or she should be prideful, arranging a person for a fall. On the flipside, it is also prideful to say, “I am worthless,” for the speaker is still focused on his or her self. Consequently, the speaker will start seeing evidence confirming his or her worthlessness, setting the individual up for a “loop” of self-abasement. Pride is bad; proud-ness, good.
11. If we grow up hearing “pride comes before a fall,” we are primed to react negatively when we hear someone say that they are “proud of their family.” Likewise, if we are told “do not judge,” when we hear someone make an assessment that is worded in a way that makes it sound like a judgment, we are primed to disregard what is said (regardless its validity). It is important to be aware of the ways we are “primed.” Emotions often cause an individual to overlook context, but context makes all the difference.
11.2 Humility, rather than self-abasement, is to think of yourself less (versus “as less”). Pride is self-awareness, and self-awareness sets up an individual for “loops,” distorting frameworks, and abstracting lenses.
11.3 A possible danger of personality tests (like Myers-Briggs) is an increase in self-awareness as an INTP, ENTJ, etc. Each personality type could establish a lens through which to view oneself and all a person does. Good or bad, the consequences of such a “toward-ness” are hard to pinpoint.
12. If language is the mother of confusion, much of philosophy is simply a process of defining words.
13. Judgment systematizes; assessment notes.
14. Forgiveness shouldn’t fashion lenses, for to forgive a “judgment” is to forgive a framing (but is this idealistic?).
15. Problems noted in this paper can also have implications in the areas of romance, for when a person says, “You’re my boyfriend,” that individual may create a lens in which that individual sees lots of evidence confirming the perfection and infallibility of the other. This might set the person up for disappointment and unintentionally asks the significant other to bear an unbearable reputation.
16. We do not readily help people when we help our ideas of them. To simply suggest people “do what we think they should do to be helped” isn’t necessarily what will help them. In fact, it may worsen their situation, which could function as evidence that they didn’t listen to us and do exactly what we suggested. This might make us more adamant in our suggestions, which might cause more damage.
17. Judgment can subtly slip in through sympathy. When I see someone suffering, I can say, “She is stressed,” and suddenly view everything that person does as “painful.” As a result, I might fail to give that person the space the person needs to develop his or her self, believing I need to help (and seeing lots of “evidence” proving this to be the case). Assessment, on the other hand, entails empathy, which helps me avoid putting on abstracting and hindering glasses. By putting myself in another person’s shoes, I can avoid thinking “he’s miserable” and think rather “he’s going through hardship.” Sympathy is arguably one of the most common ways people define others by their qualities, and though seemingly loving, it is judgmental. We should assess when others go through hardship, but not judge them by or in it. (Judgment seems to never be to a person’s benefit.)
18. If we judge someone as the cause of stress (for example), we will easily start to see lots of evidence that the person is indeed the cause. In reality, the judger might be the cause, and it might be the very act of judging which causes the stress. Also, in seeing someone else as the cause, the judger easily builds evidence that he or she isn’t the cause, making it increasingly difficult to get the judger to cease generating stress (for his or her self and the one being judged).
19. Empathy requires mediation for one to determine “how” to be empathetic. If I recognize that I don’t like being called on the phone and decide not to call someone because “I wouldn’t like it,” I could make that person feel left out. To truly be empathetic, I can’t always just “do unto others what I would want done unto me.” That works in certain circumstances, but only when what a person wants done unto them happens to match the values and paradigms of the other being done unto. This occurs easily when it comes to say lying and murder (for it is fairly certain that most people don’t want to be attacked or lied to), but many situations are grayer. Since many moral philosophers or moral questions tend to be limited to extreme cases, it seems to be the case that an empathetic “golden rule” is enough to live by. However, such a “golden rule” doesn’t give us much direction when it comes to deciding whether or not to go to lunch with someone or to phone a friend. For that, we must think what the other person would like in concordance with his or her paradigms, frameworks, and preferences. To do what we would like to have done unto us may in fact hurt those whom we hope to love. To be effective, empathy must be informed by truth.
19.1 Kant’s “categorical imperative” also proves ineffective when it comes to issues like whether I should call a friend, take a person to lunch, etc. If I take my friend to dinner because I believe it should be a universal law that friends should take one another out, I am implying that introverted friends should always put one another into uncomfortable and taxing circumstances. Though the “categorical imperative” may be helpful in deciding whether to murder an enemy or when it comes to reporting a theft, its limits manifest along the lines of where particularities divide.
19.2 These points ultimately highlight the limits of morality and ethics and, for me, the need to attach these studies to a larger picture of character development and decision-making (which I fear some ethical paradigms might help us avoid).
20. Assessment isn’t inherently good, though judgment, considering the distinction, is inherently bad. Both assessment and judgment are prone to assume, which always proves problematic.
21. We must be careful when it comes to listening to others because people all have different frameworks of interpretation. We mustn’t just hear words; we must also hear frames rattle.
22. It’s easier to put your shoes in another person’s shoes than your feet.
23. To act requires a belief in the rightness of the act, even if extremely timid, and thus in every act we are determining we are “right,” meaning we are also constantly judging, assessing, or dancing between both. Considering this, it is hard to imagine that a moment goes by when we aren’t on the verge of making the mistake of judging instead of assessing.
24. When involved, some misjudge, but when uninvolved, they feel unloving.
25. If we call someone deceived when they aren’t, we are now deceived.
When that person we have called deceived says we’re deceived, will we laugh?
25.1 If you call yourself deceived when you aren’t, you are now deceived.
25.2 What you judge is what you become.
What you fear is what comes unto you.
25.3 If I tell others, “You are deceived,” I have now “incepted” that idea into your mind and perhaps forced you to view everything through that lens (in line with “Inception, Discrimination, and Freedom”). You now must “actively” view everything as “not effected by deception.” Of course, everything before had this characteristic, but it now takes effort to view everything like this again, which makes it more likely that you will eventually see things as “effected by deception.” (Ideas are “timeless,” it seems.)
26. ‘The irreconcilable opposite of action is judgment’.A The judge lays down the law, but do they do it?
ABonhoeffer, Dietrich. Ethics. New York, NY: First Touchstone Edition,1995: 47.
27. If we judge someone to be angry and then we never see that person upset, we might think that person “has really improved,” when really person may have never had an anger problem in the first place.
28. To shift into a mode of judgment pulls certain memories “toward” us into a new light: a previously unnoticed comment suddenly emerges in memory as evidence that a person is inconsiderate, while simultaneously making the judger believer he or she is “objective” in reaching that conclusion. As subjectivity appears objective, judgment often appears nonjudgmental
29. To allude to “On Thinking and Perceiving,” judgment is associated with thinking; perception, assessment.
30. It seems the nature of judgment to extend negative qualities out into “what a person will always do,” while judging positive qualities is often more “temporary.”
31. Do not judge those who judge as judgmental lest you become judgmental; yet, at the same time, do no fail to assess the judgmental as judgmental unless you be “toward” an unreality.
32. The judgmental generally don’t think they judge; otherwise, they would stop. Furthermore, the judgmental read a point like this and “know” it doesn’t apply to them. Yet, at the same time, one who assesses he or she isn’t judgmental will seem to be like the judgmental person in denial of his or her judgmental nature. Only a given person can know the convictions of his or her own heart.
33. If we assess that a person “is being judgmental” and that person replies “now you’re judging me,” that person has tried to create “a closed loop” which catches us. Only assessment can break it, but it requires honesty and discernment of the parities involved to determine and admit who is assessing versus who is judging (that’s presence cannot be guaranteed).
34. Humans naturally see evidence for some case. All facial expressions, all tones, all topics of conversation, etc., tend to be “read” as meaning something beyond themselves (the mind seems to naturally “judge”).
35. The problem with judgment over assessment is that it is hermeneutical: it is a lens of interpretation rather than simply an acknowledgment of (an) occurrence.
36. In line with “Theoretical-Awareness” and “Inception, Discrimination, and Freedom”: when I say, “I like theology” or “I’m a good athlete,” or when another “incepts” these ideas into our mind, we become “self-aware” of these qualities, which might cause us to see the world through a “lens” which “pulls” evidence for these premises “toward” us. In deciding we are good at philosophy, we might see evidence confirming we are an expert, and consequently we might be inspired to become better at it or to stop studying, thinking that we have achieved mastery. It depends, but this dynamic should be noted all the same.
37. As discussed in Thoughts by O.G. Rose, ideas are lenses. If I believe my wife is angry, then I will see her lack of a smile as evidence that she is angry, when her lack of a smile may signify nothing at all. Since ideas are the lenses through which I see the world, to learn to think is to learn to see. To lack thinking is to lack sight.
38. The difference between phenomena and “evidence” is “toward-ness,” and is “toward-ness” found where there are no people?
39. Is there such thing as a good judgment? Isn’t it good to think about someone as “they are happy” as opposed to “they are acting happy right now?” Aren’t we lifting someone up to identify them as “smart,” “positive,” “energetic,” and the like (as opposed to merely assessing them as such)? Certainly “good judgement” may not be as consequential or destructive as “bad judgment,” but it comes with its own problems. If I think “he is happy,” I can create an expectation that the person should always be happy, fail to understand the hidden struggles the person might be dealing with, and also come to think of his happiness as a matter of personality, not diligent cultivation. Even positive judgements can create boxes which result in biases that blind individuals from the full picture. Furthermore, if a person truly is “always happy,” that is what you will always assess: the judgment is unnecessarily risky. Lastly, what a person “is” suggests that which the person doesn’t have to work to maintain; it just “is.” In this way, a “good judgment” can remove the imperative to “keep working.”
40. Often, the difference between judgment and assessment is just a pause.
41. Judgment is misjudgment.