Saturday, August 22, 2009

Judgment Day- Part 2

In Part 1, I established a few definitions and synonyms for the word "judge". "Discern" is not really controversial. Neither is "exonerate"; however, "condemn" is quite controversial. So, I'll tackle that in this post and the next.

First, I'm going to throw in another word and definition. "Praise". Praise is given when an action is discerned to be good. It would be the opposite of "condemn". I add this because "condemn" is a judgment based on a bad action (perceived as a "negative" judgment) and "exonerate" is a judgment based on being found to not have done an action (perceived as a "neutral" judgment), but there was no perception of a "positive" judgment given. "Praise" is never given in a court system, so its commonly overlooked as another reasonable directional flow of discernment.

If someone is rewarding one person, they are not rewarding someone else. Unfortunately, if a person is performing one, they must perform the others also. The ideas behind our school system are a great example (whether or not they are actually carried out is another issue). For kids who excel, they tend to receive scholarships and high honors (praise- positive academic judgment); for kids who fail, they must retake the failing course (punishment- negative academic judgment), and for kids to neither excel nor fail, they receive no specialized attention (exoneration- neutral academic judgment).

It is quite interesting to me how people have no problem with praise (reward), but have a big problem with condemnation (punishment). (For now, I'm going to ignore exoneration since it is neutral.) People love to get rewards because rewards make them feel good about what they have done. People do not like to get punishments because they make them feel bad about what they have done. Feeling "good" is a pleasant experience, while feeling "bad" is not so pleasant. Our society is bent on suppressing what does not feel good at the moment and encouraging what does feel good at the moment. That is why condemnation is suppressed (condemned) while reward is encouraged (praised).

Since reward and punishment are tied together (if one is performed, the other must be also in order to make the first meaningful), we must then ask, "When is both (not just one) of them appropriate?" If condemnation cannot be an option in a situation, then neither can praise be an option. I'll cover this in Part 3.

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