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The Leavis-Bateson debate: a study of condition, implication, propensity and bad-faith

By Yousef Al-Janabi


This thesis is a study of the twentieth-century debate between F.R. Leavis and F.W. Bateson. In it I explore the critical positions held by Leavis and Bateson in relation to the function of criticism and the role of the critic. The epistemological inquiry central to my analysis asks: is\ud literary criticism and the study of literature antithetical to the construct of a discipline, which by definition presupposes objective standards and criteria. My research concludes that the views contested throughout the Leavis-Bateson debate stem from pre-conceived and implicit notions regarding what Leavis and Bateson deem literary art ought to be. As such, their methodological principles and critical ideologies can be seen as practical extensions of subjective values. In the later sections of the thesis I examine the key issues of the debate in relation to wider critical discourse in which the principles of literary evaluation are subject to applied autotelic and meta-critical analysis. I conclude my work with the assertion that due to the inherency of subjectivism in processes of critical performance, the systematic application of determinable validity to critical methods or judgments within fields and disciplines of knowledge, occurs not through deference to verifiable domains of aesthetic or nomothetic truth, but rather through functions of power, position, and bad faith.\u

Topics: PN0080 Criticism
Year: 2012
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