What is Criticism?

Legal Definition
Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something.

Criticism is an evaluative or corrective exercise that can occur in any area of human life. Criticism can therefore take many different forms (see below). How exactly people go about criticizing, can vary a great deal. In specific areas of human endeavour, the form of criticism can be highly specialized and technical; it often requires professional knowledge to understand the criticism. This article provides only general information about criticism. For subject-specific information, see the Varieties of criticism page.

To criticize does not necessarily imply "to find fault", but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an object against prejudice, no matter positive or negative. Often criticism involves active disagreement, but it may only mean "taking sides". It could just be an exploration of the different sides of an issue. Fighting is not necessarily involved.

Criticism is often presented as something unpleasant, but that's not true. There are also friendly criticisms, amicably discussed, and some people find great pleasure in criticism ("keeping people sharp", "providing the critical edge"). The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism has been presented since 1970 to a newspaper writer who has demonstrated 'distinguished criticism'.

Normally criticism involves a dialogue of some kind, direct or indirect, and in that sense criticism is an intrinsically social activity. Even if one is only criticizing a book or an idea in private, it is usually assumed there is someone who will be made aware of the criticism being expressed at some point, although who exactly will hear it, may also remain unknown. One is still engaging with the ideas of others, even if only indirectly. One can of course also keep a criticism to oneself, rather than express or communicate it, but in general the intention is, that someone else ought to be aware of it, however that may occur. Self-criticism, even if wholly private, still mentally takes the concerns of others into account.

Another meaning of criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature, artwork, film, and social trends (see the article links below). The goal of this type of criticism is to understand the possible meanings of cultural phenomena, and the context in which they take shape. In so doing, the attempt is often made to evaluate how cultural productions relate to other cultural productions, and what their place is within a particular genre, or a particular cultural tradition.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
The art of judging skilfully of the merits or beauties, defects or faults of a literary or scientific performance, or of a production of art; when the criticism is reduced to writing, the writing itself is called a criticism.

2. Liberty of criticism must be allowed, or there would be neither purity of taste nor of morals. Fair discussion, is essentially necessary to, the truth of history and advancement of scienc. That publication therefore, is not a libel, which has for its object, not to injure the reputation of an individual, but to correct misrepresentations of facts, to refute sophistical reasoning, to expose a vicious taste for literature, or to censure what is hostile to morality. Campb. R. 351-2. As every man who publishes a book commits himself to the judgment of the public, any one may comment on his performance. If the commentator does not step aside from the work, or introduce fiction for the purpose of condemnation, he exercises a fair and legitimate right. And the critic does a good service to the public who writes down any vapid or useless publication such as ought never to have appeared; and, although the author may suffer a loss from it, the law does nto conisder such loss an injury; because it is a loss which the party ought to sustain. It is the loss of fame and profit, to which he was never entitled. 1 Campb. R. 358, n. See 1 Esp. N. P. Cas. 28; 2 Stark. Cas. 73; 4 Bing. N. S. 92; S. C. 3 Scott, 340;. 1 M. & M. 44; 1 M. & M. 187; Cooke on Def. 52.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A discussion ot a censuro of another’s conduct, character or utterances. See 83 Mich. 583, 21 Am. St. Rep. 622, 11 L. R. A. 72, 47 N. W. 674.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary