A century ago, Charles Péguy observed that self-­consciously modern intellectuals “want for everyone to criticize everything. But they don’t want anyone to critique critique.” For Péguy and others, “critique” broadly designates thinking in which reflexive suspicion of truth and truth claims is assumed to be superior to any reasoned assent to those claims, and analyses of becoming and historical flux are increasingly assumed to be more powerful, more valuable, and more honest than thinking affirmatively about being, nature, truth, goodness, God, or any metaphysical term intimating abiding “essences” in the world and beyond it. 

From early modernity forward, a doughty and eclectic succession of thinkers have criticized this kind of critique. Pascal, ­Johann Georg ­Hamann, Péguy, and many others have exposed its tendency to depend tacitly upon bold metaphysical commitments that it elsewhere decries. 

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