kritik of thinking (1)

William Shanahan, Ft. Hays State University, Kansas

Debater's Research Guide, Health Care Policy, 1993

Apart from the general anarchy which has erupted among the reformers, each is compelled to confess to himself that he has no clear conception of what the future should be. That, however, is just the advantage of the new trend: that we do not attempt dogmatically to prefigure the future, but want to find the new world only through criticism of the old. Up to now the philosophers had the solution of all riddles lying in their lectern, and the stupid uninitiated world had only to open its jaws to let the roast partridges of absolute science fly into its mouth. Now philosophy has become worldly, and the most incontrovertible evidence of this is that the philosophical consciousness has been drawn, not only externally but also internally, into the stress of battle. But if the designing of the future and the proclamation of ready-made solutions for all time is not our affair, then we realize all the more clearly what we have to accomplish in the present - I am speaking of a ruthless Kritik of everything existing, ruthless in two senses: The Kritik must not be afraid of its own conclusions, nor of conflict with the powers that be. - Marx, September, 1843 (2)

Policy has a stranglehold on debate worthy of any NYC transit cop. Argument must conform to rigid policy prescriptions - not only are particular types of arguments deemed unacceptable, whole ways of thinking are excluded also. A caveat must follow on the heels of these seemingly scathing denunciations of current debate practices: debate is excellent! Debate opens paths of thinking that compulsory statist education maliciously denies. Intellectual obedience to authority is schooled, beginning in kindergarten and continuing throughout the remainder of the students' captivity (3). Debate teaches students to question the dogma spewed forth daily in their classrooms, to inquire into the matter at hand rather than simply accept the intellectual authority of their teachers. Students initially are protected from the stultifying effects of educational institutionalization by the argument and thinking skills learned in and brought from debate. Unfortunately, debate cannot resist its own calls to "face reality," cannot resist its own dogma. In debate though, those calls rally around the policy pole, demanding allegiance to the real world. Debate has opened many paths for its participants and helped them to travel extraordinarily far. This article attempts to open additional pathways for debaters, not shut down the current ones.

Martin Heidegger lived most of his life in close proximity to the Black Forest in Germany. The forest permeated much of his thinking. In many of his later lectures and essays, Heidegger included at least a brief movement through the German word Weg. Weg, way or path in English, provides Heidegger's readers with a hint for understanding his sometimes difficult philosophical prose. As is often the case, Heidegger turns to the ancient Greeks for help: "For the Greeks, however, the basic feature of the way- ('method") - is that be conveying along the course, underway, it opens up a view and a perspective and hence provides the disclosure of something." (4) While walking in near-darkness through a dense forest, the trees above suddenly break and some light hits you. The experience of emerging suddenly into the light, feeling the warmth of the sun, is the movement of Heidegger's thinking. Difficult matters are engaged not to resolve them, but simply to think them. The darkness is as important as the light. Conveying along a particular path is not the answer. Views become possible, perspectives open only while underway. What allows for the moment of brightness is the moving along a way, not the reaching of a destination. On another day, the sun is absent and the moment is missing. So unconcerned with destination was Heidegger that he names a collection of his essays Holzwege, woodpaths, and offers the following description:

"Wood" is an old name for forest. In the wood are
paths which mostly wind along until they end quite suddenly
in an impenetrable thicket.
They are called "woodpaths."

Each goes its peculiar way, but in the same forest.
Often it seems as though one were like another.
Yet it only seems so.

Woodcutters and forest-dwellers are familiar with these paths.
They know what it means to be on a woodpath. (5)

Amazing! Heidegger describes his thinking as ending in an impenetrable thicket, a dead end. So why read him? - because what is important is not the end, but the way. The way of thinking does not invite the thinker to arrive, only to think. Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places. Sometimes the light shows you.

The danger of thinking in this or any other way is the way can become old, tired. When one way is followed too often or too closely, it becomes fixed. Where once fresh forest floor led the thinker, pavement now determines the way. Permanency replaces flexibility. The need to seek new, different ways is stressed by Heidegger:

The way, . . ., of the thinker does indeed go off the usual path of men. Yet we leave it open whether this "way off" is just a by-way. It could also be the reverse, that the usual way of man is merely a perpetual by-way ignorant of itself. A way off the path, however, does not have to be a by-way in the sense of what is "way out" and unusual. Even a by-way is again not necessarily an off-way.(6)

Heidegger here maintains the possibility that the way traveled for centuries just might be ignorant of itself. Notice the argumentative style: Heidegger entertains this possibility in the hopes of getting the thinking underway. His goal, at least at the beginning, is not to convince his reader of the "correctness" of this position. Too often, thinkers avoid the way off for fear of failing or losing their way. For others, acceptance and conformity prevent them from following off-ways in order to avoid being thought of as too far out. Still others simply want to win and the way most traveled in debate is policy. In fact debate is called policy debate when classified in high school and college. So certain is debate that the lines are demarcated clearly, a familiar epithet frequently hurled at the kritik runs: "Go to CEDA where you belong." No doubt a number of you who have continued to read this far endorse a similar message, perhaps substituting L-D for CEDA. At least keep the question open, maintain the possibility that the kritik has something to say to policy debate. Leave it open whether the kritik is the off-way or policy is merely a perpetual by-way ignorant of itself. Follow at least for a while along a less familiar way through policy debate.

Another cry heard increasingly around college debate is Dallas Perkins' now famous "TOO Faast!" The critique of speed has been present in debate since the beginning of "spread" debate. Traditionally and consistently, defenders of current debate practices point to benefits other than speaking skills (though those are not excluded): research skills, argument strategy, depth of topic-specific knowledge, breadth of policy knowledge, and critical and other thinking skills, to name only a few of the more popular defenses. The kritik accepts those benefits and attempts to extend thinking skills. The same defenders quickly retrench to the benefits befitting mostly policy debate, now arguing against this kind of thinking. Critical thinking is fine. This type of thinking though, precludes other policy benefits. WARNING: The kritik supplements, not supplants current debate practices. The kritik is not the new way of debating, out to become the new debate dogma, to replace the old guard. The kritik joins policy debate. If along the way one helps the other, if the kritik opens up another way through debate, if policy debate provides the framework in which the kritik can flourish, wonderful. If however, the only result is debaters are exposed to different ways of thinking, new thinkers, then the kritik has served one of its major purposes: to expand the realm of critical thinking. These new attempts at thinking may not be recognizable immediately as successful due to the current ways of judging success. By thinking along different paths however, the possibility that new perspectives will open remains above.
As a starting point, the kritik can be divided into three types: thinking, rhetoric, and value. The first, thinking, offers much to debate and directly engages Heidegger's ways of thinking. Thinking kritiks attempt to think the resolution along different paths. Policy debate presently functions on a foundation of unquestioned assumptions. Quite simply, this type of kritik opens those assumptions for consideration. Rhetoric kritiks focus on the specific language used either by the debaters or in their literature. The focus shifts from the impact of arguments to the impact of words, although words often impact arguments. Debaters are held accountable for the implications of their word choice for both their arguments and themselves. The value kritik is the most commonly argued of the kritiks and is very similar to arguments which have been made in debate for a long time - that is, deontological arguments, a priori axiological or value positions, most ethical or moral standards. Value kritiks reveal critical underlying value assumptions and expose them to either external or internal evaluative standards. Briefly, external standards typically are found in some societal or cultural ideal and applied from outside, while internal standards use the revealed value assumptions to expose inherent contradictions and inconsistencies. Remember: This typology is a place to begin, offered provisionally to get the kritik of thinking underway.


Kritiks of thinking uncover the ways of thinking underlying policies, arguments, and even debate itself. Uncover here almost seems overly dramatic since the thinking under scrutiny is usually quite open. Why then, uncover what is already present? Heidegger asks a similar question: "But what does nearness mean?":

As soon as we try to reflect on the matter we have already committed ourselves to a long path of thought. At this point, we shall succeed only in taking just a few steps. They do not lead forward but back, back to where we already are. The steps do not form a sequence from here to there, except - at best - in their outward appearance. Rather, they fuse into a concentration on the selfsame thing, and wend their way back to it. What looks like a digression is in fact the actual proper movement on the way by which the neighborhood is determined. And that is nearness. (7)

We need to take steps back towards ourselves. Our thinking must find its way back to where we already are. Weg, is no longer so obvious when steps taken along the path do not form a sequence from here to there, when the way wends back to the same place. One of the earlier thinking kritiks was a kritik of rationality. The college topic required affirmatives to overturn a Supreme Court privacy decision. The kritik of rationality "uncovered" rationality as one of the cornerstones of judicial decision-making - no great discovery. Uncover perhaps is expressed more properly as made available for debate. The importance of rationality to both the Supreme Court and to debate almost cannot be overstated. Reason is the unquestioned (unquestionable according to many of the kritik's opponents) foundation which makes policy and debate possible. The specifics of this kritik are less important than its movement through the questions. Rationality surrounds us, controls us and directs us. Reason distinguishes us from other animals. After all, judges are expected to provide reasons for their decisions. Nonetheless, rationality has come under intense, and at time brutal, scrutiny. (8) Still, debate seems unwilling to examine one of its own increasingly unstable building blocks. Rationality was assumed correct and necessary. Debate took place on the basis of, not over, rationality. The kritik of rationality apparently digressed from its assigned course toward the Court. The rationality kritik moved behind this topical assignment, exposing what was obvious and everywhere to the same type of critical examination ostensibly required of every other issue argued in debate. This "digression" allowed debate to dwell in its own neighborhood, brought debate back to itself. If debate is determined by rationality, then it must not be afraid of its own conclusions (or premises). The way to the Court first involved a couple steps back to, through debate. This thinking kritik uncovered the obvious and made it debatable.

Last year's high school topic on worldwide pollution provided for a similar movement. Pollution, though in some need of rudimentary definition, is a commonplace. Pollution involves fouling, soiling, or generally making the environment unclean. Advocates of reducing pollution accept the distinction between an untainted environment and a polluted one. This distinction draws its sustenance from Descartes and the modem scientific view of humans and nature. Critics of this perspective attempt to expose such dualistic thinking as the source of the problem rather than the solution. Placing humans outside and above nature establishes the framework for exploitation. The environmental ethic has been argued effectively in debate for years. Much of last year's ethic work continued along a path prepared by debaters a decade earlier. The kritik also provided an argumentative structure within which that previous thinking could be extended. The implications for the debate itself of altering thinking as the ethic authors advocated were explored. Evaluating evidence and arguments now required facing thinking that rejects some of the most fundamental assumptions necessary not only for the evidence and the arguments, but also for the very nature of evaluation. Advantages and disadvantages, cause and effect, even affirmative and negative losses demand rethinking when the necessity, desirability, or possibility of dualistic thinking is opened to question, for example. This kritik directed topical environmental thinking under our current ways of thinking toward the near omnipresence of dualisms, in both debate and the environmental literature. Dualistic thinking was but one way through the environment and debate. 'Me desirability and possibility of this type of kritik debate obviously can be called into question. Neither question can be opened effectively if either is practiced exclusively. Debating worldwide pollution required thinking about the various environmental ethics and thinking about environmental ethics invited thinking kritiks.

A few brief, concluding examples should take us far enough for now along toward thinking kritiks. Feminism is the focus of many debates today. Perhaps the cornerstone of most current feminist politics is some clearly definable difference between either sex or gender (for example, male and female). Such oppositional thinking is under serious attack, often as part of a larger confrontation with all binary thinking- sometimes feminist, sometimes political, often neither. The need to examine the assumptions of all the evidence and arguments in the debate is obvious when the possibility of thinking outside both gender and sex emerges. Basic questions of freedom and oppression, an enormous part of today's debate, are re-cast drastically when, for example, the structures governing human actions are surveyed. The existence of free choice, the omnipotence of the state, ideological, and other apparatus, the possibility or impossibly of meaning, all gather in debates over basic freedoms. Not only the structures governing individuals, but the individuals themselves are open to question. The kritik of modernity and Cartesian thinking has far-reaching consequences (that is, if we are still able to talk in terms of consequences). When the basic building blocks of western-style democracy can be brought under fire, thinking over freedom must be a part of at least some of our debates. Kritiks of western thinking are also very much a part of the health care literature. Non-western kritiks similar to those aimed last year at traditional environmental solutions no doubt will arise.

Thinking about providing medical insurance from within a holistic perspective, for example, seriously calls into question the benefits typically associated with standard allopathic treatment. If the whole foundation of western medicine is undercut, arguments and evidence from within that perspective must be re-examined. The effectiveness no longer can be evaluated by first presupposing the legitimacy of the thinking. Simply pointing to the history of successful western medical intervention will not suffice if that history is the matter being debated. Kritiks of thinking approach old questions in new ways. Though the way is sometimes difficult, the view is often spectacular.


The importance of language to debate also almost cannot be overstated. Virtually all paths in debate lead through language. Yet, aside from technical objections like those leveled at speed, language is rarely discussed. Rhetoric kritiks seem to remedy this oversight. One of the oldest attempts to hold debaters responsible for the possible ramifications of their language is found in debates over debate ethics. A popular response to charges of ethical impropriety is to punish reciprocally unsubstantiated ethical aspersions. According to advocates of this position, the effect on one's reputation associated with even the suspicion of unethical behavior can be devastating. So, both teams must be held accountable for their choice of language. There are at least two different types of rhetoric kritiks: debater-centered and argument-centered. Debater-centered kritiks, like the ethical one above and as the name suggests, focus on the effects language has on the debaters. Argument-centered kritiks attempt to unravel the interconnections between the language policy-makers employ and the policies they enact. Together, these kritiks allow debate access to another of its fundamental assumptions, providing a way into matters too long left unexamined.

What role should language play in debate? Clearly, rhetoric creates possibilities and restricts alternatives. In the early seventies, the Supreme Court tried to balance the rights of welfare recipients with the need for government officials to control fraud. In Wyman v. James, the Court accepted the invasion of privacy because of the suspected high fraud risk. Opponents of the decision pointed to its pervasive "rhetoric of poverty." The Court assumed that welfare recipients were more likely to commit crimes due to their poverty. Enforcement measures ordinarily deemed intrusive were allowed because of the extraordinary nature of poverty. Not only were specific encroachments permitted, a climate of hatred and discrimination was fostered by presupposing the association between poverty and crime. The poverty label stigmatized those it ostensibly sought to help. The kritik of rhetoric engaged in both high school and college against homeless policies and privacy decisions often included both types of this kritik. Initially and obviously, the rhetoric of poverty allowed the Court to approve otherwise unacceptable remedies. The ease with which the words impoverished and criminal were substituted practically demanded the Court's decision. Also though, this interchangeable rhetoric encouraged discrimination against the poor from non-governmental sources as well. The movement from the effect of this rhetoric on individuals to its effect on debaters seems almost natural. If the way the Court speaks affects the nation, then the way debaters speak, at least possibly, affects those debaters. Debater-centered kritiks of the rhetoric of poverty parallel the argument-centered approaches: using discriminatory language when making decisions increases the likelihood of engaging in discriminatory practices. In other words, the debaters themselves were at risk. Here, as with all typologies, the lines blur and the categories run into one another. Such blurring merely demonstrates the extent to which rhetoric and its effects extend throughout debate. Our focus on argument and policy too often directs our attention away from other equally "real" impacts. Certainly, as the need to extend health care to the poor in this year's high school topic is addressed, questions about the impact of such rhetoric will also need to be addressed.


Value kritiks have been part of debate for a long time, though under different names. Debaters frequently argue apriori value criteria for evaluating policy actions. Here is another example of the artificiality of attempting to separate value and policy (either institutionally, by creating other forums, or dogmatically, by hurling insults). How does one debate the merits of health care or medical insurance in a "policy" vacuum? Even the most staunch defender of policy debate would not advocate excluding questions of, say, freedom from their discussion. Though the government functions on a bedrock of assumed values, most policy-makers in debate allow, if not encourage, debates over these cherished values. More often than not, the values continue to be assumed and are used to evaluate other actions. Still, thinking behind policy decisions toward value assumptions in any fashion helps uncover much about the way those decisions are accomplished.
At the outset, this article divided value kritiks along external and internal lines. External kritiks often use commonly held values as the basis for their objections to particular policies. For example, constitutional guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness combined with basic democratic beliefs about egalitarianism and individual worth could be used to delegitamize current medical insurance practices. Since all citizens are not protected, the government fails deontologically (that is, fails in a primary duty or moral obligation). Such straight-forward applications of normative ethical standards require little explanation. Another version of what here is called an external value kritik also has been present in debate for some time. Rather than accept the underlying value structure, this variation of the kritik rejects critical elements of that structure, rendering it unable to support itself. Earlier in this article, individual rights were offered to support increased medical insurance. Previously in debate, calls for increased individual liberty have been met by a rejection of, for example, property-based rights for reason of ecological scarcity. Recent events in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union speak to the absolute necessity of coming to grips with radically different views of freedom. Instead of embracing westem-style democratic values, many of these newly "freed" individuals are clamoring for a return to the security and freedom of the old guard. Even the framers of the constitution encouraged a healthy criticism of the powers that be, before eventually succumbing to and becoming them. Once again, this way through the field of values is fairly obvious. External value kritiks evince traditional objections to age-old questions.

Internal value kritiks expose the inconsistencies and contradictions within policy structures. Like the early immanent critiques of Hegel and Marx, these kritiks try to delegitamize the dominant views of society by showing how they fail to meet their own standards of legitimacy. This legacy has informed a loosely knit group of legal scholars known as critical legal studies, CLS, whose primary goal was to "trash" the system. Originally relying heavily on the tools of Marxism and critical social theory to demystify legal structures, they have expanded their repertoire to include some of the ways of thinking ways described above, like post-structuralism, postmodernism, and feminism. CLS has played a role in college debate for almost a decade now. The privacy topic continued debate's on-going dialogue with CLS. The kritik helped open new ways through that dialogue. Like the earlier environmental ethic debates for example, kritiks forced debate to come to grips with the far-reaching implications of endorsing such radical approaches to traditional questions. Rejecting a policy and refusing to present an alternative dramatically alters debate's basic policy framework which relies almost exclusively on comparing policy alternatives. Thinking about the legal system necessarily extended to thinking about debate. The similarities between legal and debate dogma are striking. The reaction by each to CLS and the kritik was also similar: lash-out. When the foundation cracks, people get nervous. When the walls crumble, they get scared and angry. Internal values kritiks are not the exclusive province of the left, however. Opponents of government-financed health care might cite the same constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but focus instead on the underlying property justifications. This approach allows proscriptions against taxing one member of society to take care of another since the right to property is equally inalienable. Internal and external value kritiks move along a way traveled frequently in debate. By conveying along a way, underway, perspectives previously unavailable open, potentially disclosing something earlier overlooked.


We use the word "discuss" here to mean, first to point out the proper place or site of something, to situate it, and second, to heed that place or site. The placing and the heeding are both preliminaries of discussion. And yet it will require all our daring to take no more than these preliminary steps in what follows. Our discussion, as befits a thinking way, ends in a question. The question asks for the location of the site. (9)

The above typology attempts to situate the kritik properly. Too often, the kritik is dismissed summarily as outside the domain of policy debate. Locating the kritik in the thinking behind policy debate allows us to view both from a different perspective. Placing both at the site of thinking prior to any policy-making turns us away from rigid policy prescriptions toward rigorous thinking ways. When we heed thinking, many of the concerns raised by the kritik's opponents are razed or rendered impotent. Our thinking on the kritik has begun only recently, so we must step carefully. As both Heidegger and Marx warned, it will require all our daring to take only a few steps, not to attempt dogmatically to prefigure the future. Nonetheless, the practice of debating the kritik must be addressed. Now however, the kritik has a place to stand, a place to begin.

The relevance of a particular kritik first must be established. A necessary precondition for any kritik is uncovering assumptions critical for the arguments and evidence being debated. Simply invoking "the kritik" is insufficient. (10) The threat of nuclear war looms over policy debate, still directing much of our thinking. Including the history of Being in a debate about averting another world war no doubt seems, at best, dubious and, at worst, criminal. Heidegger comments on just these concerns in 1955:

But for the time being - we do not know how long - man finds himself in a perilous situation. Why? just because a third world war might break out unexpectedly and bring about the complete annihilation of humanity and the destruction of the earth? No. In this dawning atomic age a far greater danger threatens - precisely when the danger of a third world war has been removed. A strange assertion! Strange indeed, but only as long as we do not meditate.

In what sense is the statement just made valid? This assertion is valid in the sense that the approaching tide of technological revolution in the atomic age could so captivate, bewitch, dazzle, and beguile man that calculative thinking may someday come to be accepted and practiced as the only way of thinking.

What great danger then might move upon us? Then there might go hand in hand with the greatest ingenuity in calculative planning and inventing indifference toward meditative thinking, total thoughtlessness. And then? Then man would have denied and thrown away his own special nature - that he is a meditative being. Therefore, the issue is the saving of man's essential nature. Therefore the issue is keeping meditative thinking alive. (11)

The kritik must also be understandable. The above is from a commemoration of a native composer given at a public ceremony in the German village of Messkirch, Heidegger's birthplace. He engaged his decidedly non-academic audience in matters of thinking reserved almost exclusively for an advanced philosophy seminar. In fact, so successful is Heidegger in engaging his audience, the above requires almost no additional explanation.

The most prevalent response by far to the kritik was mentioned earlier in the context of the CLS debate: no alternative. After having provisionally set aside the presumed superiority of policy debate and here in the context of thinking, this response seems out of place, not wrong. Obviously, many different ways run through the question of an alternative. As policy-makers and critics, seek alternatives. As thinkers though, maybe follow the debaters for a while - perspectives sometimes open, underway. What can high school students teach us about, for example Nietzsche? What can they learn? Thinking about questions without the usual intellectual baggage lets one move differently along old paths. Striking new views are possible when stepping lightly. Think along ways that frighten even the prepared. "You must succeed in bringing about a change of viewpoint in your auditors, in awakening the sense in which questions must be asked." (12) Heidegger's teaching advice applies equally well to debaters and coaches.)

If you allow certain fundamental assumptions to be debated, then you open the way for all assumptions to be debated: infinite regression. This response presumes the legitimacy and rules of logic. Infinite regression actually might parallel the experience of all seeking after knowledge: withdrawal. Fine for thinking, but what about debate? Without limits, debate is impossible. The ground made available by the kritik is literally limitless. Though kritiks may allow a unique experience of thinking, they destroy debate, shout the accusers. What if instead, one of the most important experiences of critical thinking is everything is debatable? The way around the dictatorship of the classroom is through the opening created by everything is debatable. Ultimately of course, such an experience turns back on itself. If everything is debatable, then everything is debatable is debatable, beginning a back-and-forth movement which stops only when thinking stops or reason intercedes. In addition, remember the kritik's site, thinking. Respond to the kritik of the Cartesian subject with your own rendering and defense of "I think therefore I am." Listen to the thinking behind the various kritiks and respond appropriately. Read, debate, think.

Many questions still remain. Questions of conditionality, fiat, "should," and the like all involve more space than remains here. Briefly though, conditionality again privileges only one way through debate, one view of debate. When an impenetrable thicket is reached, Heidegger does not advocate hacking a way. Steps can be retraced, choices changed. 'De kritik questions. Answers answer, not win - just like the answers given to topicality questions. Early versions of the kritik included a reexamination of fiat. Since no policy is ever enacted post-debate, this kritik questioned the legitimacy of "weighing" advantages versus, for example, kritiks of the system within which those advantages accrue. Ultimately, the illegitimacy of such a response can be found without the need for recourse to flat kritiks (see the earlier implications for evaluating advantages in the face of a thinking kritik). Though fiat kritiks are not needed, further thinking about fiat is. Some kritik opponents point to specific words in the topic to exclude kritiks. They use should to force a selection between or among alternatives. Even without the argument's specifics, its movement through the topic should he apparent by now. In an attempt to shut off a particular thinking path, this strategy defines should in order to prevent debating should. This response to the kritik enacts the need for a kritik. Finally by way of suggestion, use kritiks strategically as non-absolute arguments. Kritiks can be argued against, for example specific advantages or disad scenarios. Explode the myth of mental illness against a mental health advantage or expose the racism of a crazy leaders proliferation scenario. By limiting the scope of a particular kritik, some of the objections to the kritik in general might be avoided. More importantly however, debaters limit the kritik when they fail to limit the kritik. Rather than providing an exhaustive list of responses requiring little additional thought, this way through the kritik of thinking hopes to encourage further thinking, not regurgitation.

Policy or not policy? 'Me question asks both whether to follow traditional policy paths and if the kritik follows any of these paths. Clearly the former is advocated openly throughout. Debate faces questions similar to those raised by Heidegger at the dawn of the atomic age. Technology works. So does debate.
Policy debate has helped many go far. Will one type of thinking come to dominate exclusively as calculative thinking has? Or is the domination of policy in debate symptomatic of, rather than analogous to, the situation with technology and thinking? The other way through policy or not policy opens the possibility that the kritik is policy debate. Last year's college topic on development assistance helped open this way. The development assistance literature was heavy with kritik, all types. The policy literature explicitly raised questions about the underlying value assumptions of development assistance. Policy analysts examined the impact of the rhetoric of development assistance on not only those it tries to help, but also those who speak it. These policy analysts also explored the consequences of thinking about development assistance in different ways, from different perspectives. Policy is not choking debate. An inflexible, narrowly defined vision of policy threatens debate. Not all transit cops hate graffiti artists.

As the article ends, its nature as a polemus needs to be stressed. Polemus sometimes translates from Greek as war. Heidegger translates it as "a setting apart from one another," aus-einander-setzung. This article seeks to combine Greek confrontation with Heidegger's setting-apart by getting thinking about the kritik underway. Thinking in this way presents a way through kritiks, obviously not the way. This kritik of thinking, this polemus sets itself apart from other thinking about the kritik, confronts that other thinking. As a result, the way sometimes gets rough. So does debate.

The article ends where it began, with the title. Looking part, "of" operates enigmatically and equivocally. The of in the title allows for its own reversal: thinking of kritik. Is the kritik of thinking or thinking's kritik? Does the article kritik debate's thinking or does the kritik belong to thinking? Or, both? Obviously, the article kritiks debate along three ways discussed here: thinking, rhetoric, value. Also obviously, the article locates the kritik at the site of thinking where it belongs. So, both - but, if both, then what about enigmatic equivocality? What if instead of debate's thinking, the article kritiks thinking in general? If thinking becomes the kritik's object, does the kritik of thinking then destroy itself?


1 Leaving Kritik, criticism or critique, partially untranslated underscores its German lineage and reaps untold aesthetic rewards. This article emerged from sustained contact with an extraordinary group of debaters at the University of Texas. Thanks.
2 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker, 2nd ed. (New York: Norton, 1978) (13). Marx offers a "plan" that "would meet a real need" in this letter to Arnold Ruge, both at the time were editors of a short-lived "critical philosophy" journal.
3 Paul Feyerabend, philosopher and historian of science, offers insight into our educational institutions which comments directly on our debate endeavors: From our very childhood we are subjected to a process of socialization and enculturation (to use ugly words for an ugly procedure) compared with which the training of household pets, circus animals, police dog's is mere child's play. The noblest human endowments, the fit for friendship, trust, the need for companionship, the will to please that is to make others happy are misused and defiled in this process by teachers who have only a fraction of the talents, the inventiveness, the charm of their pupils. They are not entirely unaware of their shortcomings and they take their revenge. For their one and only aim, their life's ambition is to reduce their wards to their own squalor and stupidity…Everywhere people without hope take hope away from those who still have it, encourage, badger, coax them to 'face reality' and thus make sure that the world will never lack the likes of them. Science in a Free Society (New York: Verso, 1978) 174-5.
4 Martin Heidegger, Parmenides, trans. Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1992) 66. Parmenides is generally considered to be one of the great progenitors of the dominant western world view, the current way of thinking (the specifics of which are not immediately relevant). The Greek in this passage remains to remind the reader that this thinking extends back at least twenty-five hundred years to a truly alien world. Too often, translation eliminates this distance, flattens this difference.
5 Heidegger, Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Harper, 1993) 34.
6 Heidegger, Parmenides 66.
7 Heidegger, On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (SanFrancisco: Harper, 1993) 34.
8 The academy is rife with such criticism: philosophy, literary criticism, human and natural sciences, all are under attack from various circles- postmodernism, post-structuralism, pragmatism, and the ever popular epistemological anarchism, to name but a few.
9 Heidegger, Language, 159.
10 Even the most non-interventionist among us would want: "Vote against them-the kritik."
11 Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking, John Anderson and E. Hans Freund (New York: Harper, 1066) 55-56.
12 William J. Richardson, "Heidegger among the Doctors," Reading Heidegger: Commemorations, ed. John Sallis (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993) 51.