Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something or someone in an intelligible (or articulate) way.
- The judger is called "the critic".
- To engage in criticism is "to criticize".
- One specific item of criticism is called "a criticism" or a "critique".
This article provides information only about basic kinds of criticism, which are used generally by almost everybody at one time or another (for more specific types or areas of criticism, see the list at the bottom of this page, the (incomplete) category list for "criticism", Varieties of criticism and the criticism of (disambiguation) page).
Criticism can be:
- directed toward a person or an animal; at a group, authority or organization; at a specific behaviour; or at an object of some kind (an idea, a relationship, a condition, a process, or a thing).
- personal (delivered directly from one person to another, in a personal capacity), or impersonal (expressing the view of an organization, and not aimed at anyone personally).
- highly specific and detailed, or very abstract and general.
- verbal (expressed in language) or non-verbal (expressed symbolically, or expressed through an action or a way of behaving).
- explicit (the criticism is clearly stated) or implicit (a criticism is implied by what is being said, but it is not stated openly).
- the result of critical thinking or spontaneous impulse.
To criticize does not necessarily imply "to find fault", but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection against prejudice, or a disapproval. Often criticism involves active disagreement, but it may only mean "taking sides". It could just be an exploration of the different sides of an issue. Fighting is not necessarily involved.
Criticism is often presented as something unpleasant, but it need not be. It could be friendly criticism, amicably discussed, and some people find great pleasure in criticism ("keeping people sharp", "providing the critical edge"). The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism has been presented since 1970 to a newspaper writer who has demonstrated 'distinguished criticism'.
Another meaning of criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature, artwork, film, and social trends (see the article links below). The goal of this type of criticism is to understand the possible meanings of cultural phenomena, and the context in which they take shape. In so doing, the attempt is often made to evaluate how cultural productions relate to other cultural productions, and what their place is within a particular genre, or a particular cultural tradition.
Criticism as an evaluative or corrective exercise can occur in any area of human life. Criticism can therefore take many different forms. How exactly people go about criticizing, can vary a great deal. In specific areas of human endeavour, the form of criticism can be highly specialized and technical; it often requires professional knowledge to understand the criticism.
Famous quotes related to criticism:
“I, with other Americans, have perhaps unduly resented the stream of criticism of American life ... more particularly have I resented the sneers at Main Street. For I have known that in the cottages that lay behind the street rested the strength of our national character.”
—Herbert Hoover (18741964)
“Culture is only true when implicitly critical, and the mind which forgets this revenges itself in the critics it breeds. Criticism is an indispensable element of culture.”
—Theodor W. Adorno (19031969)
“I hold with the old-fashioned criticism that Browning is not really a poet, that he has all the gifts but the one needful and the pearls without the string; rather one should say raw nuggets and rough diamonds.”
—Gerard Manley Hopkins (18441889)
“Isolation in creative work is an onerous thing. Better to have negative criticism than nothing at all.”
—Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (18601904)
“Nothing would improve newspaper criticism so much as the knowledge that it was to be read by men too hardy to acquiesce in the authoritative statement of the reviewer.”
—Richard Holt Hutton (18261897)