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Hastings Law Journal

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A profession's secret is the analytical art through which its practitioners work. Donald Schön has used the term "reflection-in-action" to describe the processes through which architects and other professionals unravel and resolve the "uncertainty, uniqueness, and conflict" in the "indeterminate zones" of professional work. He has argued that because these processes cannot be reduced to a code of natural rules, inquiry into them often is closed off. Through a process of "mystification" superior professionals are said to have more "wisdom" or "talent" or "intuition" or other "junk categories" of characteristics. He also has argued that effective reflection-in-action can be understood better and taught better if it is treated as an art, "not inherently mysterious... [but instead] rigorous in its own terms." The legal profession's analytical art is primarily diagnostic and predictive or strategic. ....

This article, then, is a preliminary inquiry into the art of critique, meant to open up (but not necessarily to resolve) issues that have not been explored previously. Sections I and II examine the art of Socratic critique and the differences between a class taught with a Socratic critique and one taught with the Langdellian method. Section II particularly considers the effect on critique of students' and teachers' experiences in the classroom, as well as the role of critique in carrying to advanced levels the analytical skills taught in the classroom. Section III explores analytical arts as received paradigms of creativity, as well as the effect of critique on creativity. Section IV discusses some barriers to effective critique, and section V considers some matters of structure and technique.



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