In The Concept of Criticism, Sparshott gives an elegant account of his view that the idea of performance is central to the place of criticism in the life of the arts. Applied to the arts in general, performance retains the notion that art is characterized by intentionality without applying to it the kinds of strictures we would apply to the products and doings of ordinary moral agents. Applied to criticism, performance best identifies the manner in which the critic gives grounds for the evaluation of a work of art, without necessarily directly evaluating it. Criticism, in short, is one performance about another performance.
The implications of Sparshott's core thesis for our grasp of the relationship of criticism to art are surprisingly far-reaching and profound. The Concept of Criticism explores these implications with wit and tenacity.
In his profound exploration of the nature of aesthetic criticism, Sparshott presents a series of short, lucid chapters. The result is a witty, perceptive, well-argued, and suggestive book. The Concept of Criticism is philosophy both shrewd and elegant: it remains a classic of modern aesthetics. - Roger Seamon, University of British Columbia
The Concept of Criticism is vintage Sparshott, a must for everyone interested in aesthetics. The superb analysis of criticism connects everyday usage to more technical applications for art and literature. Lucid, stimulating, and philosophically rich. - Deborah Knight, Queen's University at Kingston
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