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Book Review: The Anatomy of Judgment by Philip J. Regal

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Philip Regal began writing The Anatomy of Judgment for college science students so they might avoid some of the pitfalls involved in human thinking. However, the completed work is for anyone attempting to make better, more accurate judgments about themselves and the world around them.

According to The Anatomy of Judgment, proper thinking “must be cultivated” if one is to escape the layers of influences that already manipulate the Western mind. Thus, Regal’s work studies these influences in some detail.

He begins by explaining that much of the Western World’s thought is influenced by the philosophy of the ancient Greeks, particularly Plato and Aristotle. Plato’s world was one of shadows. In earthly existence, humans could not see real objects, but only a reflection of their perfected forms which existed in the ideal world with the Demiurge (God). Upon death, humans would then arrive in the ideal world and see perfected objects for what they really are.

Aristotle was much more scientific. He urged students to gather and analyze facts about their world before attempting to make a synthetic judgment about what a thing is. Truth about the underlying substance of a worldly form could only be gotten by sense observation. But The Anatomy of Judgment would caution that the senses are easily misled. A look at the figure below is disturbing because the mind repeatedly tries to make sense of the object but cannot.

Although most people feel they make non-prejudicial analyses of the world around them, author Regal would caution against such thinking. The society in which a person is raised has already exerted a certain mind control. The fact that different cultures have often developed far different systems of laws, customs, and arts over long periods of time often leads to serious misunderstandings, particularly when two peoples meet who do not share a common language.

Evidence of this is obvious when the Europeans invaded North and South America bringing along their religions, their customs, their value systems, and their goods, and, one might be wont to add, their greed. Clashes were inevitable as the Indians watched white settlers clear sites and build homes and protective forts in what had been their home lands — their family or tribal garden areas — their sacred burial grounds. As the line of coastal settlements grew, Indians could no longer reach the ocean for fish and other sea staples. (See National Geographic’s May, 2007 issue: “Jamestown – The Real Story.”)

From their earliest invasive landings, Europeans thought negatively about the Indians who they quickly labeled savages when these poor (by European standards) folk attempted to prevent the rape of their territories. In addition, the Indians worshipped non-Christian gods, lived in primitive homes, dressed oddly, and often seemed to follow strange if not frightening customs.

American history is gradually being rewritten to show how thoroughly disenfranchised the native Indians became at the hands of white immigrants as settlements grew into more powerful colonies and righteous palefaces moved relentlessly westward.

There is little doubt that the land grabbers and Indians ever really understood each other’s culture. Europeans could wage war killing off whole tribes of Indians because they concluded wrongly that these people were sub-human with no rights to American soil. As far as human value judgment was concerned, killing obstinate Indians was not considered a criminal offense or morally wrong. And yet these same righteous tribal killers regularly stood to worship their God led by an equally naive minister.

What I’ve said about Indian exploitation is relevant to The Anatomy of Judgment. Regal would hold that when a conclusion is drawn — whether it be religious, political, scientific, artistic, or about the rights and welfare of the American Indian — it cannot be made blindly or with prejudice for that judgment to be sound. It must be made with an awareness of all factors that could enlighten the decision so that fair and decent conduct results.

One need only look at the blind decision of the United States to invade Iraq with no real stop sign in mind. The influences of thousands of years of Mid Eastern history, religion, culture, and customs were ignored in favor of a quick, political act of revengeful war against terrorism.

I would strongly recommend The Anatomy of Judgment be read not just by scientists for whom it was primarily intended. This book is a must read for the politicians who have already shown their overwhelming need to make better judgments after nose-diving our country into another country’s civil war. It is interesting that much of the common citizenry in America has already arrived at the conclusions of Regal’s book while our government is still hunting for the forest in the trees.


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