To critique a text is to determine its value based on specific criteria. The criticism of ideas should not be confused with the affective appreciation of a text. It is not a question of saying “I like” or “I do not like”, but rather of judging its value.
In order to make a textual critique, one must first make sure that one understands the author’s ideas and has placed them in their context, which requires prior reading and analysis. methodical.
Then, you can criticize the ideas by asking if the author succeeds in convincing you, in other words, if his argument succeeds in making you adhere to his thesis.
1. Evaluate the author’s arguments using two main criteria:
1.1 The credibility of the arguments
It is a matter of determining the truth of an argument, in the case of a judgment of fact, or the acceptability of an argument, in the case of a value judgment. In the presence of an argument of fact , one evaluates its veracity by asking the following questions:
- Is this factual judgment based on reality?
- In the case of testimony, is the witness trustworthy?
- In the case of a call to authority, is it justified?
In the presence of a value judgment, its acceptability is assessed by asking the following questions:
- Does this value judgment call for rationality?
- Is it universal in scope?
- Does this judgment conflict with other values considered more fundamental?
1.2 The relevance of the arguments
Argumentation can respect the credibility criterion, but be irrelevant. To evaluate the relevance of the arguments consists in questioning the link uniting the argumentation with the thesis. This link is not always of equal force. The relevance of an argument can be assessed from the following scale:
- total absence of link: the thesis is not justified in any way;
- weak link: the thesis is not justified because it is unlikely;
- moderate link: the thesis is probable but not certain;
- strong link: the thesis is justified beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. Compare the author’s thesis with other theses on the same topic.
You could, for example, refer to another author or ideological stream.