On the meaning of criticism

by look i have opinions

“[A]ll criticism, judgment, diagnosis […] is a tragic expression of an unmet need.”

—Marshall Rosenberg (this is the most reliable-looking source I’ve found)

I can’t find the essay or interview in which I first encountered this quote (or one of its many variations or paraphrases), but the writer linked Rosenberg’s remark to the topic of artistic criticism, not just personal criticism.

I like this better than my own cynical definition of criticism: the attempt to justify one’s emotional reactions by intellectualizing them into opinions. By the latter definition, criticism is essentially private, of interest primarily to the critic. (See also: opinion blogs.) By the Rosenbergian definition, criticism means something, albeit not necessarily what the critic intends it to mean.