We explain what it is to discern, the origin of the term and its moral meaning. In addition, its relationship with the ability to understand.

The knowledge of a specialist may be necessary to discern what is appropriate.

What is discerning?

When we speak of discernment, or discernment, we refer to the ability to differentiate things from each other, that is, to distinguish something from the rest, or even to appreciate what is good and what is bad. When we go to a judge, an authority or a specialist, we count on their specific preparation to allow them to discern what is the solution to our trouble, that is, what is the ideal way to solve it.

This word comes from the Latin word I will discern, composed by dis- (“By different means”) and sift ("Sift", "separate"), so that it implies from its origins the concept of choice, of identifying (and therefore separating) the parts of something. Hence the religious and philosophical traditions of the West have proposed different Models and / or procedures to be able to discern good from evil, the real from the false, etc.

The concept of discernment, thus, is traditionally related to understanding: in order to distinguish the parts of something, it is necessary to understand it first; and also with him knowledge: those who know the most about something, have a greater capacity to differentiate its elements.

This becomes quite evident when we use the verb discern as synonymous to see: in the phrase “there is so much smoke that I cannot discern who I am talking to”, we are equating it with seeing, identifying or recognizing, and therefore also with knowing and understanding.

In the Western cultural tradition, it is common to equate the concepts of vision and understanding: hence, to refer to someone who is not very intelligent, let us say that "he is of little insight" or, also, that "he does not have much discernment".

!-- GDPR -->