Dictionary.com defines criticism in the following terms:
1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.
3. the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.
4. a critical comment, article, or essay; critique.
5. any of various methods of studying texts or documents for the purpose of dating or reconstructing them, evaluating their authenticity, analyzing their content or style, etc.: historical criticism; literary criticism.
6. investigation of the text, origin, etc., of literary documents, esp. Biblical ones: textual criticism.
Except in the sense 2, criticism is a positive thing. There’s no need for anyone to be afraid of criticism in 5 out of the 6 senses mentioned above. Should sense 2 frighten anyone really?
“While some men are born small and some achieve smallness, it is clear that Adam Smith has had much smallness thrust upon him,” says Amartya Sen in his latest book, The Idea of Justice. [Sen, obviously, is criticising some critics of Adam Smith – and Sen is no ‘small’ man.] The first two categories of men (and women too, I guess) may be afraid of criticism sense 2 (hereafter called c2).
Men born small fear c2. The reason: c2 accelerates their smallness. [Corollary of Newton’s First Law of Motion]
Men who achieve smallness fear c2. The reason: the force of c2 adds momentum to their unwanted achievement. [Corollary of Newton’s Second Law of Motion]
Men who have the fortune of smallness being thrust upon them may not fear c2 if the force of the internal thrust of their greatness is greater than the force of the external thrust of smallness. [Corollary of Newton’s Third Law of Motion]
“To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing,” advised Edward Hubbard.
Otherwise, outgrow your smallness.
When you outgrow your smallness,
you cease thrusting smallness on others
and you let others grow out of their self-imposed smallness.