Logic and Criticism

Logic and Criticism

Logic and Criticism

Logic and Criticism

Excerpt

The title Logic and Criticism may seem ambitious in an essay which only attempts to deal with two of the points at which 'logic' enters into critical activity. But the problem of judgement and its justification is one of the traditional meeting places of criticism and philosophy, and one which provides some important clues to the whole character of critical language, and the type of 'logic' it employs. The theoretical problems of judging between good and bad works of art, and the practical problems of the language of criticism are seldom brought together in discussion of the subject. The former have been considered of speculative interest to philosophers, the latter a workaday matter to be left to critics. When critics have ventured into theory or philosophers tried to legislate for practical criticism the resuits have not been promising. Critics have often been inclined to cloudy metaphysics; philosophers, bound by theoretical or logical considerations, have lacked a sensibility to the concreteness and individuality of works of art. My purpose is to bring an examination of the language and concepts critics actually use to the problem of determining the criteria for goodness in literature--not an attempt to develop a theory of judgement on logical or metaphysical grounds, but rather to set the problem of judgement in its proper context of the things critics say.

Judgement is an inevitable part of criticism, and critics have used a variety of ways of trying to explain them. Sometimes they have appealed to self-evident principles, or accepted metaphysical standards, or simply the normal habits of mind of a quite self-confident society. On other occasions, critics have made their own excursions into theory, trying to explain the proper grounds of critical judgement. My inquiry will be into . . .

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