“Judge not” and “Judge for yourselves”
“Judge not, that you be not judged”. Taken in isolation, this famous unit of instruction warns against intellectually precipitate conclusions, the formation of the hard value-judgment and world-view which then acts as a constraint to inhibit engagement with the world. Contextualised in Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels, however, it is seen to fit into a broader theme of the perilous status of public truth in the light of the radical future, and to bear not on intellectual conclusions as such, but on the agreed truths of the present era, the acceptances and rejections which prevail to constitute a ground for society. What is at issue between two applications of the concept of judgment, an intellectual/moral and a public/judicial sense? Why is judgment conceived in the Gospel tradition both as indispensible and as morally dangerous?
Augustine found in the radical assault of ancient scepticism on the standing of intellectual conclusions an occasion to explore the dynamics of judgment as he found it in the Gospels. While asserting a robustly objectivist account of the status of the claims of faith and the competence of theological speech, he located the realm of ambiguity increasingly within the realm of public speech, identifying the judicial-political sphere as the locus of illusion and error and finding the source of philosophical error to be a political one.