Saturday, 5 March 2016

On the difference between philosopher and critic

Two ways to read a text: as a philosopher, as a critic; a lover of wisdom, a lover of error. Of course, these two tasks cannot be perfectly distinguished. One picks up a book, reads, finds no wisdom – it is difficult to avoid the judgement "what a load of rubbish." (And what coldhearted critic is so immune to this other love affair?) In a sense, the philosopher is the more self-centred of the two. The critic can be styled as some defender of the Realm, purging the nefarious and unworthy. The philosopher must always make of themselves a laboratory instrument, testing out the tremors of new thought-combinations. To think with, to pass judgement on; forgiving of sins, a magnet to them. Neither deserving of condemnation in the abstract. But, oh, would that we could discern them more ably in the concrete…


  1. the best critics are able to sell us on what shines thu in a work, what makes it worth attending to, and the best philosophers are practicing de-construction...

  2. When I write "critic" and "philosopher" here, I'm imagining conceptual personae, not giving a factual description of what people who call themselves critics and philosophers actually do. That would be silly. (What I'm doing may still be silly but in a different way.)