IA Richards’ Concept of the Two Uses of Language

IA Richards, the New Critic, who, since Coleridge, formulated a systematic and complete theory of poetry, discusses in Principles of Literary Criticism the theory of language and the two uses of language the scientific and the emotive. David Daiches says, “Richards conducts this investigation in order to come to some clear can about what imaginative literature is, -how it employs language, how its use of language differs from the scientific spec use of language and what is its special function and value.”

When language is used for scientific purposes, it is matter .of fact and requires undistorted references and absence of fiction, whereas when language • used for emotive ends, it may be true or false. In the scientific use of language, the references should be correct and the relation of references should be logical. In.the emotive use of language, any truth or logical arrangement is not necessary —it may work as an obstacle. The attitudes due to references should have their emotional interconnection and this has often no connection with logical relations of the facts referred to.

Richards goes on to examine different uses of the word “truth”. Richards says that the term “true” should be reserved for the scientific use. Richards goes on to consider the connotations of the ward “truth” in criticism. In literary criticism, the common use is ‘acceptability or ‘probability’. For example, the story of Robinson Crusoe is true in the sense of the acceptability of things we are told, in the interest, of the narrative whether or not such a person existed in real life is not relevant to the ‘truth’ of the novel. A happy ending to King Lear or Don Quixote would be false because it would be unacceptable.


Categories: Literary Theory, Uncategorized

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4 replies

  1. Good to have such great scholars

  2. Thank you sir

  3. Thank you sir for this article. It helped me out in the last moment of my revision. 👍🏻


  1. Literary Criticism and Theory in the Twentieth Century – Literary Theory and Criticism Notes

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