Digest of terms


in general usage, the act of evaluating particular words and actions in positive or negative terms. In ethical terms, the judgement is made according to moral criteria, and these may be given different degrees of significance, ranging from the preliminary and 'first impression' to 'last analysis' and 'final judgement'. A hedonist may think primarily in terms of life's immediate satisfactions, a Marxist may appeal to the 'court of history', and religious believers in the main world religions will more commonly invoke a yet weightier framework for judgement in which the whole of a person's life, extending, it may be, to every waking and sleeping moment, past, present and future, is weighed in the balance according to the law of karma with attendant reincarnation/rebirth, or according to God's verdict, perhaps on a Day of Judgement and resurrection.

"Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7:1), "Let whoever is without sin throw the first stone" (John 7:7), are messages resonating from within the Christian tradition, which goes on to talk of judging the offence rather than the person. Here the emphasis has shifted from judgement as discrimination, in the sense of responsible moral adjudication, to judgement as insensitive and perhaps self-righteous condemnation.

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