The first thought came to my mind when I read Carroll’s statement “it is a philosophy of criticism…It is an attempt to excavate the foundations of any critical practice, whether theory driven or otherwise”. So what’s the “foundations”? It seems evaluation is the foundation in his book.

He proposes that evaluation is central to the criticism of art, but he also says it does not mean that criticism only has (or must have?) evaluation, instead it has description, contextualization, classification, elucidation, interpretation, and analysis as “hierarchical subservient to the purposes of evaluation”. I was wondering what a criticism (if any, perhaps not) which only has description looks like. It sounds like an abstract, a summary, or a synoptic. Well, I just try to think about what he exactly means when using these terms. Also why are these six intellectual activities “hierarchical”? I feel they can be intertwined and overlapped under some situations. For example, when I describe, contextualize and classify, amn’t I “analyzing” the intellectual content in mind?

Another question is when he describes artistic evaluation-evluation in light of artistic categories and political evaluation. It may be difficult to completely separate these two, as this example. It may be inevitable to touch”politics” when “evaluating” this work. Of course later he mentions differences between “interpreting” creator’s intention and “evaluating” the work’s value. But he also has said interpretation serves the purposes of evaluation.


Last question about the productivity of criticism, he says criticism is productive, even negative criticism can lead to improvement. Should we regard criticism as deconstructive, constructive, reconstructive, or all of the three, or none of the three?