Dalrymple: Non-Judgmentalism

“Of course, there are those who supposedly espouse non-judgmentalism as a philosophy, but they do so because they believe that they ought to do so, that is, they make precisely the kind of judgment that they claim not to make. The reason why they abjure such judgment is that the very word has now become synonymous, psychologically, if not yet in the dictionary sense, with intolerance and censoriousness, neither of them attractive qualities, particularly in a world in which people find themselves living cheek by jowl with many other kinds of fellow-humans. This gives rise to what one might call second-level censoriousness, or metacensoriousness: that is to say, censoriousness about being censorious. (I shall never forget the beatific smile that played around a patient’s mouth, like a breeze through corn, when I asked her to describe her own character: ‘non-judgmental,’ she replied, after searching for a short while in her vocabulary of self-praise. Moral complacency, oddly enough, is the natural consequence of non-judgmentalism as an ideal.)”

– Theodore Dalrymple, In Praise of Prejudice


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