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 containing the word criticism:
“A bad short story or novel or poem leaves one comparatively calm because it does not exist, unless it gets a fake prestige through being mistaken for good work. It is essentially negative, it is something that has not come through. But over bad criticism one has a sense of real calamity.”
—Rebecca West (18921983)
“The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion.”
—Walter Benjamin (18921940)
“In criticism I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with friend and foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me.”
—Edgar Allan Poe (18091845)