Pride & Prejudice

Impression, Judgement and Recognition

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A few weeks ago I finished “Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen, and the effects of this book are still lingering in my psyche. I have seen the movie and enjoyed the story line, the romance and the wit. The book, however, was rather dry of the overt romance and scene description, and more descriptive of the interaction and thoughts of Lizzie.

I read the introduction afterward and it really helped to define and apply the lessons from the mind of Austen. It is a book of judging and re-judging. As the introduction stated, the first two parts should be called “Dignity & Perception.” It isn’t until part three were each discover their own pride and prejudice.

What is lingering in my mind is the process of judging by impression. Early on, Lizzie “identifies her sensory perceptions as judgements [and] treats impressions as insights.” It is clear. She condemns Mr. Darcy and gives credence to Mr. Wickham. She then recognizes (re-cognizes, re-thinks) the her judgments. She acknowledges her own pride and prejudice, as does Darcy, and at that point can become free of them.

“There can be few more important moments in the evolution of a human consciousness than such an act of recognition.”

This point really struck me. As I journal and try my best to be honest about my observations of the world and people, it so hard to get things “right.” As I have looked back on other journals I have kept in the past, I have shuddered at some of the things I wrote of both myself and others. So how can I even attempt to write now? How do I know I am right or accurate in anything? It must be that I treat everything as impression, with the intent to collect real information and re-cognize the person or situation.

The book has also prompted me to evaluate my relationships with those in my life. How much do I really know of people? How much is impression? How much is knowledge? At church last Sunday, I felt it hypocritical to vote for the new deacons because I did not know them. Some I had impressions of. Some, I had not met at all. I didn’t vote, save for one. I am now looking, or sometimes am, at people in a different way. Hopefully, this lesson will stick with me.

Also, some distinction was made in the introduction concerning impressions and experience. Without impressions, there can be no experience. They are the beginning of experience. Without experience, there can be no true reason. Reason is useless without experience (in this case, the quoting of Mary serves as example), and experience without reason is error prone. The experience is all the sensory information from the person or situation. Reason makes the experience intelligible and suggests conclusions. Thinking this way is helpful to me, and helps me to understand my own investigation of the world and people.