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The two meanings of critical theoryfrom different intellectual traditions associated with the

meaning of criticism and critiquederive ultimately from the Greek word kritikos
meaning !udgment or discernment and in their "resent forms go #ack to the $%th century& 'hile
they can #e considered com"letely inde"endent intellectual "ursuits increasingly scholars
(who?)

are interested in the areas of critique where the two overla"&
(citation needed)
To use an e"istemological distinction introduced #y *+rgen ,a#ermas in Erkenntnis und
Interesse ($-.%) /Knowledge and Human Interests0 critical theory in literary studies is ultimately
a form of hermeneutics1 i&e& knowledge via inter"retation to understand the meaning of human
te2ts and sym#olic e2"ressionsincluding the inter"retation of te2ts which themselves inter"ret
other te2ts& 3ritical social theory is in contrast a form of self4reflective knowledge involving
#oth understanding and theoretical e2"lanation which aims to reduce entra"ment in systems of
domination or de"endence&