The Anatomy of Judgment

The Anatomy of Judgment

Philip J. Regal
Copyright Date: 1990
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    The Anatomy of Judgment
    Book Description:

    “The Anatomy of Judgment is a unique and valuable contribution to the literature of the social and humanistic contexts for science … The book will illuminate dark corners for any reader, and dozens of interesting points come to light.” –Neil Greenberg, University of Tennessee Tracing the emergence of science and the social institutions that govern it, The Anatomy of Judgment is an odyssey into what human thinking or judgment means. Philip Regal moves deftly from the history of Western philosophy to concepts of rationality in non-Western cultures, from the conceptual issues of the Salem witch trials to the basic structure of the human brain. The Anatomy of Judgment offers new perspectives on the workings of individual judgment and the social responsibility it entails. Philip Regal is a professor of ecology and behavioral biology at the University of Minnesota. He served, during his pre- and postdoctoral work, as Coordinator’s Appointee to the Mental Health Training Program at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5540-3
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Critical Thought, Science, and Justice
    (pp. 3-15)

    Justice has long been one of the most powerful of human ambitions. It may seem strange to argue for this at a time when the media daily present us with evidence of contentious litigation, compulsive competition, habitual and even cynical exploitation, and emotionally brutalizing relationships in general, whether familial or societal. Nevertheless, the great books of all civilizations reflect a deep concern for how one might be fair to oneself as well as to others. All cultures have developed systems of laws and customs that help define fair and decent conduct and resolve disputes within the society’s daily life.


  5. CHAPTER 2 The Eyes of Oedipus, the Cave of Plato
    (pp. 16-30)

    Great tragedy and comedy often have much in common. Both explore our frail grasp of reality. The deceived lover whose reality is an illusion may be a tragic or a comic figure depending on the artist’s treatment of the subject. Likewise, the misled idealist or faithful follower may evoke compassion or ridicule. Great artists have been able to make us come to grips with the ambiguity of a situation: is this character good or bad? . . . wise or foolish? . . .was her action heroic or impetuous?... should she be judged with compassion or harshly?

    As they debated...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Illusion Organ
    (pp. 31-53)

    We are normally not conscious of our internal organs.We cannot determine the path of blood flow through our heart, or the complex chemistry of our livers by simply thinking about them. We do not even have the sensory nerve endings in these organs to give us any precise information. The brain is another such organ, remote from our consciousness. Its mechanism is not something that we can see simply by mental concentration or know by common sense. It has taken intense scientific research to obtain only an outline of how the brain works, and many of the details of...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Inner Realities
    (pp. 54-86)

    In several small towns in the mountains of New Mexico the people are friendly enough, but they guard their privacy and are suspicious of inquisitive outsiders. They are concerned that their religious practices will be viewed unsympathetically and perhaps eventually suppressed. These are not the small Mormon-derived sects in the western United States who still quietly practice polygamy. These are the Brotherhood of Penitentes, or Brothers of Light. Their religious practices were brought to the New World by the conquistadores and date back much further than the polygamous Mormons. The brotherhood dates from the Third Order of St. Francis of...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Fragile Common Sense
    (pp. 87-110)

    What is common sense? We usually define it as good, sound, practical judgment. Two and two makes four; dark clouds bring rain; a stitch in times saves nine; it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows— and that sort of thing. We usually assume that each of us has it if we will only use it, and that it is then a very reliable tool. Parents teach their children to learn and use common sense in order to avoid serious mistakes in life— to learn to see and believe in the causal relationships between events and...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Philosophy as Perceptual Template: Readings of Nature
    (pp. 111-140)

    Circumcision, no matter how compulsively practiced by some societies, is distinctly unnatural, and today even its hygienic value is doubted. The Hebrews explained that they circumcised their sons because in Genesis God ordered Abraham to circumcise every man child of his own, or born in his house, and even the servants, in order to begin the everlasting covenant. In their eyes even patriarchy and the burden of motherhood were not necessarily natural, but were also ordered by God: “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desireshall beto thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” In...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Language and the Construction of Reality
    (pp. 141-169)

    Clear thinking is not simply logical thinking. Illogical thinking can be an enormous handicap, but a failure to appreciate the nature of words and language, their power to create illusion, their psychological and political dimensions, is a common and major aspect of muddy or manipulated thinking.

    Language mayseemmerely to be a vehicle for objective description of reality. As late as 1473, teachers at the University of Paris were actually bound by oath to teach therealismof words (in reaction to thenominalismthat threatened to emerge and disturb their Platonic/Christian realism from throughout the Middle Ages), that...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Diverse Searches for Wisdom
    (pp. 170-204)

    The lungs are organs that regulate the body’s exchange of gases with the environment. The kidneys are organs that regulate the balance of fluids in the body. But the lungs are not by themselves adequate at very high altitudes or under water. The kidneys, too, have their limitations, and vertebrates cannot long survive on a saltwater intake. Those organisms that have developed ways tocompensatefor the limited capacities of their organs have been able to survive in harsh conditions. Seabirds, for example, may have special glands in their heads that remove excess salt from the body. The brain is...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Is Relatively Good Individual Objectivity Possible?
    (pp. 205-244)

    I want to continue the discussion of the nature and development of critical and ethical thought and the contributions of Western science to these. Despite widespread doubts of science and critical thinking in our time, we should not throw out the baby with the bath. They can contribute much to individual intellectual potential and ethical aspirations.

    Against this optimism is the belief that individuals are ideological, biological, economic, or historical puppets that can never control their own destinies for the better. There is also the notion that science is merely impersonal method. We should ponder these matters next. This chapter...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Intuition in Science and Eastern Disciplines
    (pp. 245-254)

    Many aspects of science have been discussed in previous chapters. Here I want to explore the point that traditionally creative science—indeed rationality—has not been simply formal and impersonal method. It has involved the whole individual and a disciplining of the intuitive abilities. The interplay between intuition, disciplined thought, and formal proof is always complex, and it is necessary for one to think about this with regard to the cultivation of our own abilities.

    Acreativemodern scientist may depend almost completely on a highly prepared intuition for the genesis of his or her contributions. (Much routine ornormal...

  14. CHAPTER 11 The Language of Proof
    (pp. 255-293)

    Critical thought is not simply to tear things apart or to be judgmental. At its best it is constructive evaluation that can lead to the development of improved and more useful theories. “Critical thinking is not a characteristic of Western thinking just because it is Western; nor is folk thought uniquely characteristic of non-Western thinking” (Harding 1986), but the most powerful critical thought about “material” systems (with utility even for psychological, social, and ethical systems) did developinthe West, out of its philosophical and scientific traditions. At times it has had a tenacious following in the West, as among...

  15. CHAPTER 12 The Liberal Arts Agenda Reconsidered
    (pp. 294-324)

    The sea is a deadly wilderness for people in small boats. Yet the Polynesian culture long ago spread fromFijiacross across the vast Pacific to Easter Island, and from Hawaii south to New Zealand. Dangerous travel between the farflung islands of the eastern Pacific was done without compass or sextant. This navigation skill has been one of the amazing accomplishments of humankind. The building of the pyramids seems trivial beside it.

    That great skill at building and handling boats was necessary, goes without saying. Great patience, courage, and confidence in the navigator’s judgment should also be obvious. The Pacific...

    (pp. 325-332)

    When I began to study the brain and behavior in the early 1960s there was a consuming optimism in the air among the scientific community. Tranquilizers had been developed, and with wonderful results, and in many ways this had revolutionized the outlook of the mental health sciences. There was completely serious talk that we might understand the brain one day well enough to go on to invent a pill that would block aggression and put an end to war, crime, and violence. These broad social problems had long been seen by many as the result of vestigial, ugly urges from...

    (pp. 335-348)
  18. Index
    (pp. 351-368)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 369-369)