Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reflection on Judgment: #3

To think is to judge.

Any parent can confirm that humans are driven by an innate sense of curiosity. We see a door, we want to open it. We are stumped by a theological mystery, our minds seek resolution.

Sometimes the immediate cause of our curiosity is discontent with our lack of knowledge, rather than a direct desire to acquire more.  Yet even this is reducible to the latter.  Just as vampires are drawn to blood, and preteen girls seem drawn to vampires, humanity as a whole is impelled by a deep-seated desire for answers.

Why are Sudoku puzzles so popular? Perhaps it is partly because they allow us to pride ourselves on our mental dexterity, but that answer isn’t sufficient. We solve puzzles precisely because they are unsolved, because we want to know the correct answer even if that answer will not possibly benefit us.

Certainly, many people flip through their newspapers without even glancing at the Sudoku puzzle. But they are suspending their sense of curiosity, perhaps out of boredom at a repetitive task, or frustration at the lack of forthcoming answers, or prioritization of other tasks more meaningful than logic games.

Yet, to the extent that we care about such things, we are also pursuing answers for such things.  If we are thinking about a thing, we are searching for answers; to stop searching for answers, is to stop thinking.

Our ability to reason is intrinsic to our humanity, and so in that sense is curiosity. To the extent that we think about a thing, we are driven to understand it – which means we must evaluate it and mentally process it.
The whole endeavor of thinking is teleological, directed at something beyond itself. That ultimate aim – that final cause – lies is our thirst for intellectual satisfaction. We yearn for answers; we yearn for the true.

Judgments are the ends, the final cause, of thought.

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