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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Judging judging

Judging judging

Karel Capek, the writer who invented the word "robot" (derived from the Czech word "robota" - a forced labor, drudgery), once wrote an essay in which he makes the following observation: "There are two kinds of minds, one which judges and one which merely observes". The quote is kind of difficult to translate, but to me it says that life can also be enjoyed by immersing yourself in its resplendent glory rather than by making derisive comments about it from a lofty sky box. I interpret it as a steer towards leniency, as a shift from the parental point of view towards the grand-parental one. For it is the grand-parents that usually have the wider perspective on life, and thus are more accommodating and tolerant of weaknesses of human flesh.

It seems that recently more and more people are getting pretty serious kicks from passing judgment on others, although such acts should clearly be reserved for God. Indeed, how could a person even encompass the complexity of someone else's life, let alone understand it, which should be a pre-requisite for any judgment. As another Czech, an actor Jiri Voskovec (Twelve Angry Men), noted: "Only he who was in the same shoes and succeeded has the right to judge others". And that condition, in practice, is almost never satisfied.

What I find peculiar about this business is that in almost all cases it is less intelligent people who judge more intelligent people. Hardly ever it is the other way round. But if you think about it, it makes sense. First, intelligent people have other things to do than delving into imperfections of their fellow lifeholders, and second, dull people always seem to have a little chip on their shoulder. As if passing judgment was some sort of way for them to cope with reality that is intricate beyond their reasoning abilities. By the act of judgment they replace an infinite-dimensional, richly textured and often paradoxical human individual by a simple cartoon caricature, which they can fit snugly in their finite-dimensional inner world. Needless to say that most of their judgments come off as laughably inaccurate.

If I was writing a technical paper, I'd just say that judging is a projection device, which replaces elaborate structures by their simpler approximations, by their silhouettes, so to speak. But, life is not mathematics, so I wasted three paragraphs to say the same.


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