What Is Critique? Essay

2339 words - 10 pages

What is critique and what does it mean to critique? They are the questions at hand. Critique or critical theory has many different meanings for different writers or ‘critical theorists’. Critical theory first emerged from the work of German theorists who were collectively known as the Frankfurt school (Calhoun, 1995, p 13). To critique something is to problematize an issue or to look at a perspective from an alternative view, looking at something from a different sense. This essay will discuss what is critique or critical theory by looking at the various approaches illustrated in the work and research of Craig Calhoun, Dorothy Smith and Fuyuki Kurasawa.

Craig Calhoun describes the ...view middle of the document...

Calhoun sees critical theory as a way of contesting the philistine way of life by the exploration and analysis of the world and not just viewing the world of how it is or how you are told it is without any understanding or analysis of why, what or how’s. It is to look at the underlying patterns and structures, not just the surface patterns as it is in these underlying patterns in where deeper knowledge and understanding will occur (Calhoun, 1995, p 9).
Calhoun views theory in a way that it “is important as the systematic examination and construction of knowledge” (1995, p 4). Theory then can be seen as the way people perceive the world they live in critically and through this shape their knowledge. Calhoun notes how different theorists attempt to test this in that they carry out experiments and observations and assume that the results can be reproduced anywhere else (Calhoun, 1995, p 4). He also mentions another way to carry out theory which is by explaining things by what caused them but also looking at the empirical world by observing and testing it. However, by undertaking theory in this way certain variables are not taken into account, like how everyone has different social positions in the world and that through this it distorts people’s experiences and can limit what they understand and perceive (Calhoun, 1995, p 7). Calhoun then explains how there is never a whole truth and that false propositions cannot be made into true ones, merely only from less to more acceptable perceptions. These perceptions then are moulded by the practical problems that control a person’s attention (Calhoun, 1995, p7). This is where critique makes its way into the whole equation of critical theory. Critique brings about a self-conscious view by engaging in the practical world and bringing facts to the forefront of interpretation. Critical theory in this way then brings about how people can begin to understand that the contents and problems with life can be viewed in many different ways and is not just fixed in the same state or form. Realization that everyone’s lives are being experienced in a collective fashion, people are then able to see how everyone’s experiences vary from one another. It is in this way that exposes the endless and creative possibilities of the way people view their lives and the way they live (Calhoun, 1995, p 9).
Calhoun delves into the four senses of critique that are produced by critical theory. The first sense he explains is that there needs to be a critical engagement with a theorist’s current social world and that the theorist’s current view is not the end of the discussion and that there is chance for more possibilities. He also notes that positive suggestions can be made for social action in which it is to look at the account of someone’s social world and look at the most important parts for practical action (Calhoun, 1995, p 35). The second sense he views it as a critical account of the social and personal part of historical and...

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