On Criticism (Thinking in Action)

On Criticism (Thinking in Action)

Noel Carroll

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0415396212

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In a recent poll of practicing art critics, 75 percent reported that rendering judgments on artworks was the least significant aspect of their job. This is a troubling statistic for philosopher and critic Noel Carroll, who argues that that the proper task of the critic is not simply to describe, or to uncover hidden meanings or agendas, but instead to determine what is of value in art.

Carroll argues for a humanistic conception of criticism which focuses on what the artist has achieved by creating or performing the work. Whilst a good critic should not neglect to contextualize and offer interpretations of a work of art, he argues that too much recent criticism has ignored the fundamental role of the artist's intentions.

Including examples from visual, performance and literary arts, and the work of contemporary critics, Carroll provides a charming, erudite and persuasive argument that evaluation of art is an indispensable part of the conversation of life.















pertinent and which are digressive or extraneous. Although evaluation is only one of the activities that compose criticism, it is first among equals. It frames the other activities—that is, it provides the framework. It constrains and governs the other activities; it calls the shots. When I say that it is of the nature of criticism to evaluate, I mean that it is a necessary condition of criticism which when conjoined with the other activities that go into criticism is sufficient to differentiate

royal road to the meanings they are after. Instead, I place far more emphasis on the artwork as the intentional production of the artist as an individual creator of value. Thus, where many theorists of criticism and their followers in the critical estate are engaged in post-human or even anti-humanist criticism (i.e., criticism not fixated upon personal agency), my conception of criticism is resolutely humane or humanistic in that the achievement of the artist, construed intentionalistically, is,

the past (often a.k.a. tradition). The Parts of Criticism (Minus One) 95 appeal to categories. For presumably the serious art world today is a world without categories of the relevant sort. But, of course, this picture of the art world is far too extreme. Much mass art, including movies and TV, comes in categories. Are none of them serious? Novels too, even serious ones, often are still written in genres, as are plays. Ditto popular songs; even much advanced music is written in forms, such as

about the artist’s intention. For example, once we understand the political context in which Bulgakov was writing, it is primarily from the text of his The Master and the Margarita that we recognize his intention to mask the subversive content of the book by making the Devil the messenger of Christ. In such a case, this form of intentionalism does not beckon us to turn away from the artwork, but to inspect it ever more closely. Furthermore, the intentionalist contends that it is not quite right

that apply equally to realist novels and Persian carpets? Moreover, whereas the Isenbergian critical syllogism is framed in terms of features that lay claim to the overall goodness of the work, on my approach—which we may call the plural-category approach (since there are many, many categories of art)—the category-relative evaluation of an artwork is a pro tanto evaluation insofar as it commends the work for being good of its kind just insofar as it realizes the points or purposes of the type of

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