Why are there judgmental people

1.2.2 The goal of value-free understanding

Based on the premise of diversity and the historical experience of research into cultural diversity, cultural and social anthropology counts on in different places and at different times, but also within a specific society, cultural differences to be found. She tries to be open to encounters with what is foreign from the point of view of her own social and cultural background. Above all, she tries not to normatively charge the perception of the foreign, i.e. not to judge "other" prematurely according to her own standards.

However, that does not mean that we have to approve and defend everything we see. We have good reasons to reject and fight certain practices - e.g. genital mutilation that is carried out on children, i.e. people who are unable to give or refuse their consent. A judgmental opinion on such practices is not fundamentally inadmissible. We also know that with this rejection we are not imposing an external view on the societies in which they occur, as there are people in these societies who are committed to making these practices disappear. But as anthropologists we assume that we can better understand such phenomena and their meaning for the acting people if we look at them in their own logic and put our own assessment aside for the time being.

It is therefore a basic assumption of the KSA that hasty assessment, which is usually determined by one's own cultural assumptions and values, stands in the way of a deeper understanding. However, this assumption does not prevent us from evaluating the empirical phenomena we are researching in a second step on the basis of our humanitarian and moral values ​​and our political convictions and, if necessary, from influencing them. On the contrary: if we want to combat practices such as genital mutilation, then we can only do so sensibly if we have understood them beforehand.

The scientific goal of understanding and explaining cultural and social contexts as neutral as possible must be fundamentally differentiated from their personal subjective assessment and evaluation. However, one attitude is no better or more legitimate than the other. We not only have the right, but also the duty, to take a humanitarian and politically responsible position on the conditions we are researching. Such ethical statements can only be shaped by culture. In the cognitive process, however, we have to endeavor to uncover and question our own culturally shaped attitudes as well as possible in order to avoid them hindering the goal of scientific understanding.

(WK & MR)

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