Of the meaning “critical”

It seems like the challenge of words changing their identity is still upon us and not going away any time soon (who would’ve knows, right?). It is as if a battlefield of meanings, the same as it appears to be with “knowledge” and even with “identities”.

This same goes to the word “critical” or “critique”. Its meaning as “negative” in everyday language appears so strong that its meaning as “analysis” seems to be taking hits. For the meaning of critique, I’ve enjoyed several different definitions, but particularly this one from Michel Foucault that captures something essential:

“A critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are. It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought the practices that we accept rest. […] Criticism is a matter of flushing out that thought and trying to change it: to show that things are not as self-evident as one believed, to see what is accepted as self-evident will no longer be accepted as such.”
(1988, pp. 154–155) Foucault, M. (1988). Practicing criticism. In L. D. Kritzman (Ed.), Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977–1984. New York: Routledge.


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