Judgement and the Phenomenon

As we are talking about generalisations and their danger. We might as well also quickly touch on judgement. How often are we not told not to be “Judgmental”? Generalisations are usually judgmental. Being judgmental is bad whereas using your judgement is good. So what is the difference? I would say that the discipline of phenomenology has the answer. It really is a question of scale. When a judgement is too coarse in its category, and dismisses that whole course and over-generalised category outright, you are being judgmental. It means you have not made the finer distinctions. That requires judgement. Phenomenology is a way of describing things whereby every time you come across a judgement you bracket it, put it aside and make it subject to special study.[1] A phenomenon is anything you care to point out: a thing, an event, a state of mind, you name it (and in naming it it becomes a phenomenon. Well, in describing a phenomenon, it helps being very sensitive to judgement. A judgement finishes something off. It is the last thing that you do to a thought before something that thought changes irrevocably. That is why judgement is a powerful tool that needs to be understood.


Do not get me wrong. Judgement in the mind of a designer is essential. It leads to decisions and decisions are the supreme machines of life, especially of professional life, they make things move.


So, describe the cat. “OK,” you say, “The cat is fat”. There you are, you have made a judgement. Now take that fatness carefully, put it aside and think about it. What is fatness? What is it really? Is it a state of being, is it relative, is it absolute, is it subject to scale, is it subject to a certain moral stand. What is fatness in relation to the cat? Do we say fat because it rhymes so nicely, is it meant pejoratively or as a term of endearment?


Doing that with every judgement allows you to penetrate deeply into the nature of what you are saying by unfolding your experience of the concept, which lies hidden within the word. Linguistic habit has disguised and abbreviated the concept of “fatness”


Moreover, when I say “fat”, I mean “not thin…….”



[1] The discipline of phenomenology received its most elaborate formulation in the work of Edmund Husserl and later in the thinking of Martin Heidegger.