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The word critic comes from the Greek κριτικός, kritikós - one who discerns, which itself arises from the Ancient Greek word κριτής, krités, meaning a person who offers reasoned judgement or analysis, value judgement, interpretation, or observation. The term can also be used to describe an adherent of a position disagreeing with or opposing the object of criticism.

Modern critics include professionals or amateurs who regularly judge or interpret performances or other works (such as that of artists, scientists, musicians or actors) and, typically, publish their observations, often in periodicals. Critics are numerous in certain fields, including art critics, music critics, film critics, theatre or drama, restaurant and scientific publication critics.

Criticism in general terms means democratic judgement over the suitability of a subject for the intended purposes, as opposed to the authoritarian command, which is meant as an absolute realization of the authority's will, thus not open for debate.

Criticism is the activity of judgement or informed interpretation. In literary and academic contexts, the term most frequently refers to literary criticism, art criticism, or other such fields, and to scholars' attempts to understand the aesthetic object in depth. In these contexts the term "critic", used without qualification, most frequently refers to a scholar of literature or another art form. In other contexts, the term describes hostility or disagreement with the object of criticism. Sometimes context, and the contentiousness of the subject, are the only differentiating factors between these two approaches. In politics, for instance (as in the phrase "criticism of U.S. foreign policy"), criticism almost exclusively refers to disagreement - while in an academic, artistic, or literary context (as in "criticism of Romantic poetry") it usually refers to the activity of subtle interpretation or analysis.

Criticism can also be a tool of an anti-social behavior, such as a passive-aggressive attack.

Constructive criticism is a form of communication, in which a person tries to correct the behavior of another in an non-authoritarian way, and is generally, a diplomatic approach about what another person is doing socially incorrect. It is 'constructive' as opposed to a command or an insult and is meant as a peaceful and benevolent approach. Participatory Learning in Pedagogy in based on these principles of constructive criticism.

Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others with the intention of helping the reader or the artist, rather than creating an oppositional attitude. An art critic can also be a champion of a new artistic movement in the face of a hostile public (e.g. John Ruskin), using scholarship and insight to show the value and depth of a new style. Critics might even champion a wholly new art medium; for instance the century-long critical struggle to have photography recognised as a valid art form.

There can be a tension between constructive and useful criticism; for instance, a critic might usefully help an individual artist to recognise what is poor or slapdash in their body of work - but the critic may have to appear harsh and judgemental in order to achieve this.

[edit] Critique

Critique, especially in philosophical contexts (where it is used to translate the German word Kritik), has a more clearly defined meaning than criticism. (Confusingly, the adjectival form of both critique and criticism is critical, making some uses ambiguous, e.g. "critical theory"). In this broadly political context, a critique is a systematic inquiry into the conditions and consequences of a concept or set of concepts, and an attempt to understand its limitations. A critical perspective, in this sense, is the opposite of a dogmatic one. In philosophy this sense of the word was defined by Immanuel Kant, who wrote:

We deal with a concept dogmatically…if we consider it as contained under another concept of the object which constitutes a principle of reason and determine it in conformity with this. But we deal with it merely critically if we consider it only in reference to our cognitive faculties and consequently to the subjective conditions of thinking it, without undertaking to decide anything about its object. (Critique of Judgment sec. 74)

Later thinkers used the word critique, in a broader version of Kant's sense of the word, to mean the systematic inquiry into the limits of a doctrine or set of concepts (for instance, much of Karl Marx's work was in the critique of political economy).

The cultural studies approach to criticism arises out of critical theory. It treats cultural products and their reception as sociological evidence, which may be sceptically examined to divine wider social ills such as racism or gender bias.

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bs:Kriticizam da:Kritik de:Kritiker es:Criticismo fr:Critique hr:Kriticizam nl:Kritiek ja:評論家 pl:Krytyk ru:Критик simple:Critic sr:Критичар fi:Kritiikki sv:Kritik zh:評論家


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