Judgment and Action

E-book – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3633-5

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3632-8

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3631-1
Publication Date
December 2017
Page Count
344 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Judgment and Action

Fragments toward a History
Edited by Vivasvan Soni and Thomas Pfau

Written by theologians, literary scholars, political theorists, classicists, and philosophers, the essays in Judgment and Action address the growing sense that certain key concepts in humanistic scholarship have become suspect, if not downright unintelligible, amid the current plethora of critical methods. These essays aim to reassert the normative force of judgment and action, two concepts at the very core of literary analysis, systematic theology, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, and other disciplines.

Interpretation is essential to every humanistic discipline, and every interpretation is an act of judgment. Yet the work of interpretation and judgment has been called into question by contemporary methods in the humanities, which incline either toward contextual determination of meaning or toward the suspension of judgment altogether. Action is closely related to judgment and interpretation and like them, it has been rendered questionable. An action is not simply the performance of a deed but requires the deed’s intelligibility, which can be secured only through interpretation and judgment.

Organized into four broad themes—interiority/contemplation, ethics, politics/community, and aesthetics/image—the aim of this broad-ranging and insightful collection is to illuminate the histories of judgment and action, identify critical sites from which rethinking them may begin, clarify how they came to be challenged, and relocate them within a broader intellectual-historical trajectory that renders them intelligible. 
About the Author

VIVASVAN SONI is an associate professor of English at Northwestern University.

THOMAS PFAU is Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English and a professor of German at Duke University, as well as a professor in the Duke Divinity School.

“Sophisticated and ambitious, this compilation of essays seeks to shift the center of discourse about action, agency, and judgment in the humanities. Together, these essays contribute new and interesting ways to discuss concepts that humanists are finding increasingly difficult to broach.” 
—Natalie Carnes, author of Image and Presence: A Christological Reflection on Iconoclasm and Iconophilia

"The essays in their respective approaches and arguments are interesting, original and creative, offering insights of many kinds that together highlight the internality and even identity of judgment and action. The essays' arguments both make and exemplify the point about the intelligence of human action and helpfully inform how one should think about a range of human activities."
—  Jonathan Tran, Modern Theology