Judgment





But in the building up of percepts and concepts, as well as in making

use of them after they are formed, another process of thinking enters;

namely, the process of judging.



NATURE OF JUDGMENT.--Judging enters more or less into all our thinking,

from the simplest to the most complex. The babe lies staring at his

bottle, and finally it dawns on his sluggish mind that this is the

object from which he gets his dinner. He has performed a judgment. That

is, he has alternately directed his attention to the object before him

and to his image of former nursing, discovered the relation existing

between the two, and affirmed to himself, This is what gives me my

dinner. Bottle and what-gives-me-my-dinner are essentially

identical to the child. Judgment is, then, the affirmation of the

essential identity of meaning of two objects of thought. Even if the

proposition in which we state our judgment has in it a negative, the

definition will still hold, for the mental process is the same in either

case. It is as much a judgment if we say, The day is not-cold, as if

we say, The day is cold.



JUDGMENT USED IN PERCEPTS AND CONCEPTS.--How judgment enters into the

forming of our percepts may be seen from the illustration just given.

The act by which the child perceived his bottle had in it a large

element of judging. He had to compare two objects of thought--the one

from past experience in the form of images, and the other from the

present object, in the form of sensations from the bottle--and then

affirm their essential identity. Of course it is not meant that what I

have described consciously takes place in the mind of the child; but

some such process lies at the bottom of every perception, whether of

the child or anyone else.



Likewise it may be seen that the forming of concepts depends on

judgment. Every time that we meet a new object which has to be assigned

its place in our classification, judgment is required. Suppose the

child, with his immature concept dog, sees for the first time a

greyhound. He must compare this new specimen with his concept dog, and

decide that this is or is not a dog. If he discovers the identity of

meaning in the essentials of the two objects of thought, his judgment

will be affirmative, and his concept will be modified in whatever extent

greyhound will affect it.



JUDGMENT LEADS TO GENERAL TRUTHS.--But judgment goes much farther than

to assist in building percepts and concepts. It takes our concepts after

they are formed and discovers and affirms relations between them, thus

enabling us finally to relate classes as well as individuals. It carries

our thinking over into the realm of the universal, where we are not

hampered by particulars. Let us see how this is done. Suppose we have

the concept man and the concept animal, and that we think of these

two concepts in their relation to each other. The mind analyzes each

into its elements, compares them, and finds the essential identity of

meaning in a sufficient number to warrant the judgment, man is an

animal. This judgment has given a new bit of knowledge, in that it has

discovered to us a new relation between two great classes, and hence

given both, in so far, a new meaning and a wider definition. And as this

new relation does not pertain to any particular man or any particular

animal, but includes all individuals in each class, it has carried us

over into universals, so that we have a general truth and will not

have to test each individual man henceforth to see whether he fits into

this relation.



Judgments also, as we will see later, constitute the material for our

reasoning. Hence upon their validity will depend the validity of our

reasoning.



THE VALIDITY OF JUDGMENTS.--Now, since every judgment is made up of an

affirmation of relation existing between two terms, it is evident that

the validity of the judgment will depend on the thoroughness of our

knowledge of the terms compared. If we know but few of the attributes of

either term of the judgment, the judgment is clearly unsafe. Imperfect

concepts lie at the basis of many of our wrong judgments. A young man

complained because his friend had been expelled from college for alleged

misbehavior. He said, Mr. A---- was the best boy in the institution.

It is very evident that someone had made a mistake in judgment. Surely

no college would want to expel the best boy in the institution. Either

my complainant or the authorities of the college had failed to

understand one of the terms in the judgment. Either Mr. A---- or the

best boy in the institution had been wrongly interpreted by someone.

Likewise, one person will say, Jones is a good man, while another will

say, Jones is a rascal. Such a discrepancy in judgment must come from

a lack of acquaintance with Jones or a lack of knowledge of what

constitutes a good man or a rascal.



No doubt most of us are prone to make judgments with too little

knowledge of the terms we are comparing, and it is usually those who

have the least reason for confidence in their judgments who are the most

certain that they cannot be mistaken. The remedy for faulty judgments

is, of course, in making ourselves more certain of the terms involved,

and this in turn sends us back for a review of our concepts or the

experience upon which the terms depend. It is evident that no two

persons can have just the same concepts, for all have not had the same

experience out of which their concepts came. The concepts may be named

the same, and may be nearly enough alike so that we can usually

understand each other; but, after all, I have mine and you have yours,

and if we could each see the other's in their true light, no doubt we

should save many misunderstandings and quarrels.





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