To judge or not

After reading a threatd about angels penned during an ostensibly “livelier” era in this forum’s history (as linked to by member Superman elsewhere), I noticed that the supporters of the angelic hypothesis repeatedly voiced their appeal “not to judge”. This reminded me that I have not quite made up my mind about this noble approach to human relations. But is non-involvement and living-and-letting-live always the best solution, or should we rather lean towards the more Objectivist mutual regulatory stance of policing each other. Or is there an optimal middle ground?


How are we to improve if nobody ever tells us we’re wrong? How are we to learn anything if everything we believe is beyond reproach?

EDIT: By the way…

voiced their appeal "not to judge".

Was absolute hypocritical bullshit anyway.

It is oxymoronic even to suggest that a thinking entity can live without judging. The very question itself requires judgement.


It is interesting for me that the person that screams the loudest, ‘do not judge’ ends up being the most judgemental. When they say do not judge they are asking you to allow them to do what they want. I do not experience Objectivists going around making moral judgements of each other all the time. I do not think policing is the right word. This is my most sincere answer.

What they’re actually saying is, “If you can’t stroke my fragile ego, don’t voice anything negative about me or what I do.” When you say something favourable about them, they don’t ask you not to judge, even though you clearly are judging.


And thanks for that - also sincerely. The fact is that while I do see the reason behind voicing opinions about harmful practices, I also see it as a potential slippery slope into complaining about petty things. And this may, to some extent, affect our happiness … something, I’m not glad to say, the angel people alluded to. Maybe we are just humanly averse against “correcting” others, and find the task unpleasant.

A Trivial Case: Yesterday morning, while walking the kid to pre-school in the ice cold morning air (a godawful chore that was handed down to me one fateful day when Mrs Kent decided that middle-aged students who sponge off their spouses can at least assist with some of the household tasks), I complained to a woman (yes, I’m sorry, but it was) for parking on the pavement, such that the pedestrians had the option of going around her SUV by either walking in the mud on the left, or into the traffic on the right. It was remarkable how many people on foot just stood for this, happily chatting while edging their way past this huge lump of painted metal, without any obvious worry about soiling their feet, or getting flattened by a still sleepy motorist. I saw (judged) this situation as thoughtless at best, and selfish at worst, and felt duty bound to point this out to Mrs Blockade. But after doing so, I had the strange suspicion that I have, quasithermodynamically speaking, caused a net loss in happiness.

At this stage, it seems to me that at least some judgments (while we can hardly help making them in our heads) are best left not voiced. (Obviously it does not apply to purpose-made sanctuaries of reason and debate such as these forums).


Point. :confused:

So, Rigil, are you alluding that, socially speaking, ignorance is bliss?

Personally, and this is mostly just me, I LIKE being told when I’m wrong. I find learning a pleasurable activity, and teaching too! I’m not just saying this, it’s a statement someone made to me directly: “You seem to enjoy being told when you’re wrong”.

Yes sir, yes I do. Because that is a day I learn something new. And learning is fucking awesome! I also enjoy telling people about stuff they didn’t know. To me knowledge is a campfire to build relationships around. Boring people wanna chat about the weather and who is screwing whom in the latest soapy. But tell me something interesting, or let me tell you something interesting, and then we have a REAL conversation. I’ve found my bestest friends are the people who most often know more than me.

Telling people they’re wrong however, can be done without condescension or anger. This is a skill I’ve grown in, but still have to master.

I don’t think any ideas or beyond judgment.
As far as judging people as long as they doing no harm there is no need to judge them.

Not so much ignorance, as refraining form meddling unnecessarily (and again, I’m not referring to any activities on these forums). At the bottom of my reasoning is this. When I abandoned religion and with it the notion that humans are “here” for a very specific purpose, and in it’s place realized that each person is responsible for his own purpose, I thought long and hard about what this purpose might be. Then it came to me: ask Google. The one I liked best and stole for myself simply states that the purpose in life is to maximize happiness. So anything that subtracts from the net happiness of the population, I have to, at least, question.

BoogieMonster, you are of course absolutely right on all counts, and I cannot fault any of your arguments in the post above. But it would be fatal to assume homogeneity. The model of “judge and be ready to be judged” will only bring net happiness (or harmony, if you want) if EVERYBODY were to share your admirable lack of ego and thirst for knowledge. I doubt that such a population will exist within the next 50 years.

To me knowledge is a campfire to build relationships around.

This “feels” like a good compromise. How do you decide if they are doing harm?


Not at all, some people will insist they are right even if they realize they aren’t just to save face. This helps nobody but c’est la vie.'re admirable [b]lack of ego[/b] and thirst for knowledge.

You’re not helping! :smiley:

I can be full of myself too ya know. It’s not like you’re going to tell me I’m wrong and I just roll over for you, you need to PROVE that shit!

I meant lack of ego in the sense that you evidently don’t mind being proven wrong. That is a kinda rare virtue.


This “feels” like a good compromise. How do you decide if they are doing harm?

Well haven’t worked out all the kinks yet. Deciding weather they are doing harm is an act of judging in it self
And what constitutes harm is myriad of laws and societal moral values that should also be judged if applicable or not.

But unless you want to spend your time going down that rabbit hole, I would at least say that for 99.9% we can for
the most of us work out that some action by somebody is harmful or not very quickly.

I don’t think there is a topic on which The Bible is more contradictory than on judgement, and that is saying a lot - from prescribing the most horrific punishments for trivialities to admonishing against throwing the first stone. The contrast is especially sharp between the Old and New Testaments, but not by far limited thereto. This spectacular failure of The Bible as a moral guide lies at the root of debate in Christian (and other religious) circles about the extent to which one should judge and punish or forgive. What astounds about that community is that they continue to argue about how The Bible should be interpreted without recognizing how flawed the very foundation of their morals is. It should therefore come as no surprise that (some of the) people who believe in angels should regard it as a sin to judge, implying that magistrates and judges live sinful lives, but of course not judging them for it. Although this is irrational, they are probably not the most harmful element of society. It is the judgemental that deserve the severest judgement.

When judging personalities, be it family, friends or acquaintances, we need to weigh qualities against each other and recognize the flaws as well as the redeeming attributes. Often this does not call for trying to rectify those flaws, but for accepting the good with the bad. The person who never sets a foot wrong might turn out to be unsympathetic when you do. The perfect person is not the perfect friend.

Ps. I am a great fan of W. Somerset Maugham’s books. His characters are usually quite flawed, yet treated with moving compassion.

I have a judgmental challenge: This good old friend of mine who swam internationally with me (we trained together and I was largely his mentor) during the 1960’s has made contact after some 45 years. He is a well-known multi-millionnaire in Pta today who heads up an organisation that specialises in hearing aids and employs some 300 persons. He has built a school for deaf children and has received a special Tukkies Chancellors Medal for outstanding work: Mandela opened his school some years ago. He published a book “What does God know about business?” which is apparently selling well (that doesn’t surprise me)and is invited to the US and Europe to talk about it. He sent me his book and I am trying my best to read it: Hy is lekker bybel bevok! He for example says:

“I have come to realize that some people have no vision while others do not have the discipline or passion to pursue their vision, unless it is God-given”
He goes on to tell how God, the Holy Spirit as well as JC speak with him, telling him what to do and what decisions to take in his business operations…and they ALWAYS come up trumps… He also lists a number of ‘miracles’ that he has experienced which to me sound like normal business successes, business savvy etc.
I sent him my life philosophy and Preface to my book which rejects mysticism etc. So now we’re destined to “have a beer and ‘chat’ about this” Now I know his whole background from the 60’s when his father shot his mother and tried to commit suicide: his mother died (she was a lovely lady) and his father was committed to Weskoppies largely to escape the hangman’s noose. He tells of this in his book in a footnote! He was a rough diamond himself and very naughty… obviously he’s come up trumps and has been very successful due to his partnership with the Lord God. I find the book very egoistical, self-serving and ridiculous. I realize that whatever I say over a beer will not change him one iota (and neither do I wish to). How does one respond to what will certainly develop into a debate? If he asks my opinion on the book, he’ll get it though.

I have had numerous debates with friends about issues of religion and other issues where we don’t agree. All that is required is to remain rational, allow each other the opportunity to express your views and don’t become personal. How well it goes will determine how much beer you have.

That happened to a aunt of mine, from the more religious wing of the family. Her enormous eleven year old Maine Coon croaked in the early 90s. She was heartbroken, and Jesus came down to give her a hug. She also wrote a book about the incident. She doesn’t drink, except for diet cola and cough syrup.

Speaking for myself, I’m always interested to know what mechanism these people propose whereby God speaks or interacts with them, bearing in mind that God is presumably supernatural, and we are not.

How does one respond to what will certainly develop into a debate?
It sounds like he is convinced that God is responsible for his successes. But here's another angle: can it be that merely [i]believing[/i] in God makes taking bold business decisions and embarking on risky, high yield ventures easier? And when these ventures turn out ok, then God is credited with books and anecdotes. In addition, there is a whole sack full of mind trickery available to the average Christian to ensure that he disregards and forgets those ventures that prove less than fruitful, or even the monumental cock-ups. Associating God with [i]only[/i] the desirable outcomes lies close to the heart of Theology. Now, maybe if the same person does not have the luxury of belief in a supernatural father figure, he may be comparatively cautious (and I've casually observed that atheist are, ironically, the proverbial meek - explaining perhaps the dearth of strong secular leadership), and gain or loose nothing. Moreover, if [i]all[/i] gods are seen as benevolent business partners, then one would expect to find capable businessmen of all faiths. And hey, what do you know!


I tend to agree Rigil. It’s all about how wonderful God has been to help the individual (does god have time for this?) Now about the zillions the same god ignores?? WTF!! Why does this god ignore the poor who give him alms they can ill afford but s/he helps this dude? The notion that a personal god exists is quite weird and extremely egoistic. Here’s an interesting, if not amusing extract from the book: Sitting in church "I suddenly became aware of a warm sensation on the top of my head. I looked around, thinking it might be the sun shining through a window, but…then I heard a voice saying “Why don’t you trust me with your money?” I was taken aback…I knew intuitively that this was the Lord speaking to me and he was referring to my 'little drawer containing my ‘hot cash’ which I had never declared to the tax authorities…" and so he goes on. Conscience at work? Realistically, this is all about a delusional mind but as Plato said “if you imagine something exists, then it does”.
As you say,merely ‘believing’ may indeed give people the courage to act: however, many have died on this belief system as history has shown. Bill Gates is an atheist so now I wonder who he uses as mentor and guide? Sheesh!

I've casually observed that atheist are, ironically, the proverbial meek - explaining perhaps the dearth of strong secular leadership

My casual observance is that risk takers are fairly rare regardless of belief system. I suspect you haven’t met/observed enough athiests to have an adequate sample. FWIW, I have met an atheist risk taker, one moment on the top of the business world, the next in the gutter… so risk-hungry that their behavior more often leads to self-destructive outcomes, but every now and then spectacular success. Such is the life of a risk taker.

To add to Brian’s Bill Gates example: Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg, and I’m sure many more…

So lessee, that’s three … and counting. :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

Seriously, it is of some interest to me if and how believing in God changes the human outlook and behaviours. Obviously religious assertiveness became a bit watered down since the days of the Crusades, but what is to say some vestiges didn’t remain? Legions of religions claim that belief in a god does change one … and I see no reason why (this particular claim, mind) shouldn’t be true, even if only marginally.

As for my own observations, yes, it may well be skewed, perhaps owing to my immediate surroundings where atheism has certainly not come close to any critical mass.