The origin of…Critique

“If you look at our world, it’s a world of critique.” Jose Canseco


Critique is an analysis of a written or oral discourse and can be negative or recognize merit. In philosophy it can also mean a methodical practice of doubt. In philosophical contexts, like law or academics, critique is most influenced by Kant’s use of the term: a reflective examination of the validity and limits of a human capacity or of a set of philosophical claims. In modern philosophy it has extended to mean a concept, a theory, a discipline, or an approach and/or attempt to understand the limitations and validity of that. A critical perspective, in this sense, is the opposite of a dogmatic one. Kant: “We deal with a concept dogmatically … if we consider it as contained under another concept of the object which constitutes a principle of reason and determine it in conformity with this. But we deal with it merely critically if we consider it only in reference to our cognitive faculties and consequently to the subjective conditions of thinking it, without undertaking to decide anything about its object.”

In some other languages, like Spanish and Italian, there is no distinction between critique and criticism, like in the English language. According to philosopher Gianni Vattimo, criticism is used more frequently to express literary criticism or art criticism (the interpretation and evaluation of literature and art); while critique may be used to refer to more general and profound writing as Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1789). Furthermore, critique is never personalized, but is instead the analyses of the structure of the thought in the content of the item critiqued.
Kant also argued that a critique, by definition, cannot be conducted from the outside, looking in. An exercise that would be called criticism. A critique, the examination or interrogation of an idea, is rational and based upon the process of logical deduction. It must always examine given concepts from the interior and not impose ideas, alien to the argument, from the outside.

a careful judgment in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something (such as a piece of writing or a work of art) (source: Merriam Webster).

The English word critique, comes from French critique, crucial, from Latin criticus, critic, from Greek kritikos, critic, from krinein, to discern/to separate.
Dutch kritiek, Spanish crítica and Italian critica have the same origins.

Critique in other languages:
Dutch: de kritiek (note: criticism can mean de kritiek or de aanmerking/
Spanish: la crítica
Italian: la critica


1 reply »

  1. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1789): This title is misunderstood by some people to mean that in this book Kant means to criticize pure reason and is against pure reason. It is useful that you have clarified that here critique means the examination or interrogation of an idea and not criticism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s