“The Deliberate Holding of Unproven Beliefs”
Cover of issue 37
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How to Cite

“The Deliberate Holding of Unproven Beliefs”: Judgment Post-Critically Considered. (2008). The Political Science Reviewer, 37, 96-121. https://politicalsciencereviewer.wisc.edu/index.php/psr/article/view/493


Hannah Arendt ends her volume Thinking with observations on the importance of gaining greater clarity about the "faculty" of judgment and determining how the modus operandi of this faculty differs from those of the faculties of thinking and willing. A proper understanding of judgment, she advises, is relevant to "a whole set of problems by which modern thought is haunted, especially to the problem of theory and practice and to all attempts to arrive at a halfway plausible theory of ethics." In her view, nothing less is at stake in a theory of judgment than the possibility of evaluating the movement of history (the outcome of a war, the rise of a party, the reign of a tyrant, the fall of a civilization) to be wrong even though successful. Only a proper theory of judgment can safeguard "the autonomy of the minds of men and their possible independence of things as they are or as they have come into being." Although Michael Polanyi understands judgment in a very different way (he would not agree that it is a disinterested faculty of mind detached from action), he is like Arendt in according it a central place in his treatment of knowing. Though he frames the stakes differently, he, too, holds that a proper understanding of judgment is of critical importance for the ethics and politics upon which our social well-being rests.
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