Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Friday, December 16, 2005

Judging nonjudmentalism

"Experience has taught me that it is wrong and cruel to suspend judgment, that nonjudgmentalism is at best indifference to the suffering of others, at worst a disguised form of sadism. How can one respect people as members of the human race unless one holds them to a standard of conduct and truthfulness? How can people learn from experience unless they are told that they can and should change? One doesn't demand of laboratory mice that they do better: but man is not a mouse, and I can think of no more contemptuous way of treating people than to ascribe to them no more responsibility than such mice.

In any case, nonjudgmentalism is not really nonjudgmental. It is the judgment that, in the words of the bitter Argentinian tango, 'todo es igual, nada es mejor': everything is the same, nothing is better. This is as barbaric and untruthful a doctrine as has yet emerged from the mind of man."

-- Theodore Dalrymple, Life at the Bottom

"We are moral beings, who judge one another and ourselves. We live under the burden of reproach and the hope of praise. All our higher feelings are informed by this—and especially by the desire to win favorable regard from those we admire. This ethical vision of human life is a work of criticism and emulation. It is a vision that all religions deliver and all societies need. Unless we judge and are judged, the higher emotions are impossible: pride, loyalty, self-sacrifice, tragic grief, and joyful surrender—all these are artificial things, which exist only so long as, and to the extent that, we fix one another with the eye of judgment. As soon as we let go, as soon as we see one another as animals, parts of the machinery of nature, released from moral imperatives and bound only by natural laws, then the higher emotions desert us. At the same time, these emotions are necessary: they endow life with meaning and form the bond of society.

Hence we find ourselves in a dangerous predicament. The emotions that we need cannot be faked; but the vision on which they depend—the vision of human freedom and of mankind as the subject and object of judgment—is constantly fading. And in these circumstances, there arises the temptation to replace the higher life with a charade, a moral conspiracy that obscures the higher life with the steam of the herd."

-- Roger Scruton, "Kitsch and the Modern Predicament," in City Journal, Winter 1999


Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Excellent excerpts, KM. Maybe the gals (is that word still OK?) can discuss them at the baby shower. Between shows, I mean.

I agree with Dalrymple (Scruton is a little too deep for me). But really it seems that the Nonjudmentals among us a pretty judgemental. Just say "Bush" within their earshot and see what happens.

December 17, 2005 7:18 PM  

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