Saturday, 10 September 2016 - 7:47pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 10/09/2016 - 7:47pm in

Had a brilliant idea in the shower this morning. As far as I can determine, the word "critical", in an academic context is either meaningless syntactic sugar ("it can be removed from the language without any effect on what the language can do"), or a sign of kinship with that community of thinkers which has a fierce aversion to ideas (forever working "toward a theory of…", but never arriving), or a totem handed down from charlatan to charlatan which is believed to magically shield them from — ironically — criticism ("If you don't understand/agree with me, it's because you're not thinking critically!"). These are not mutually exclusive categories.

My proposal is this: when asked to do something critically, treat the word as a placeholder for the adjective most likely to incite you to complete the task at hand. For example:

  • In place of "critically examine"; "urgently examine"!
  • In place of "critically discuss"; "loquaciously discuss"!
  • In place of "critically analyse"; "sardonically analyse"!
  • In place of "critically demonstrate"; "triumphantly demonstrate"!
  • In place of "critically engage"; "playfully engage"!

I hope this has been helpful, and I have not been "too critical" ("too much of a smart-arse").