Critique that doesn’t deoxygenate everything around it

Praxis. . .appears in theory merely, and indeed necessarily, as a blind spot, as an obsession with what is being criticized. Theodor Adorno, philosopher

–For the policy analyst, being relevant means offering an alternative to what is criticized. But there are other ways for criticism to be good-enough without that. Critique, for example, is pertinent when solutions are not on offer and “offering solutions” make bad messes worse.

There is also the honorable march of permanent critique, which resists anything like aiding and abetting sanctioned modes for “acting practically.” And then there’s bearing witness, which can make silent critique very loud indeed (e.g., the Black Sash in apartheid South Africa).

–It seems to me that that criticism is good enough when it provokes (even if discourages), disturbs (even when debatable), and sharpens attention even because it goes no further.

An example. Science and economics have been much chastised as: religion (e.g., each with metaphysics); imperialist (e.g., colonizing the traditional “why?” and “how?” of the humanities); and for being “only” socially-constructed. Also, critiques of science and economics as Big Business stress their producing sufficient Bad as to shadow the Good.

Yet when focusing on the downsides of science and economics, you needn’t be: denying the strengths each has; nor arguing that their blind-spots “cancel out” their strengths.

Good-enough criticism, I think, wants to admit that. It differs from the kind of critique that wants to buttonhole people once and for all. It’s good enough when the other side of a criticizing “no” is “yes, but.”

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