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…

2 comments:

  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...

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  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.)

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