The Lebanese-French writer, Amin Maaloouf writes about criticising in “In The Name of Identity”, a book that he tells us is about his quest “to understand why so many people commit crimes nowadays in the name of religious, ethnic, national or some other kind of identity”.
Amin writes that “the right to criticise someone else has to be won, deserved” by showing that person “friendship, sympathy and consideration, not merely superficially but in a manner that is sincere and felt to be so….” And when we have this relationship, Amin goes on, you “may allow yourself to criticise, with some hope of being heard, things about him that you regard as open to objection.”
The philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett offers a set of steps (that he credits Anatol Rapaport for), in “Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking”, to help us steer away from “uncharitable interpretations” of others, and deserve the right to criticise.
“”How to compose a successful critical commentary:
1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.”
Bob Dylan sings, in his 1964 release “The Times They Are A-Changin’”:
What you can’t understand….”