The philosopher and theorist Michel Foucault argued that critique is a powerful form of insubordination and a crucial “instrument for those who fight, resist, and who no longer want what is.” But how might critical philosophy, which trades in ideas, help us combat material and pervasive forms of injustice? What is theory’s relationship to praxis and to politics, and what kind of theory or practice is critique? The seminar begins with a consideration of the uneasy place of critique in the western philosophical tradition. We will read Kant, Marx, Foucault, Asad, Mahmood and Moten among others, in order to establish a sense of how critique emerges as a mode of radical questioning, an art of unsettling self-evident answers and interfering with established relations of power. We will consider what the practice of critique entails, and what it means to suggest, as these authors do, that critique interrogates the historically specific relationships between power, truth and the subject. Together we will ask after the conditions of what can and cannot be thought or said, and how these conditions tend to shape our formation as political subjects. We will close the seminar with a reading of Achille Mbembe’s recently translated Critique of Black Reason .