In his “Principles of Literary Criticism” and his later writings. Richards develops and elaborates the observations on the two uses of language. When Richards wrote this book, the theory of language was one of the most neglected of all studies. A clear comprehension of the differences between the two totally distinct uses of language is indispensable for the theory of poetry and for the narrower aim of understanding much that is said about poetry. Richards proceeds to examine the mental processes which accompany these uses of language. Richards tells that there are two uses of language (i) the scientific use and (ii) the emotive use.
In the scientific use of language, we have usually matter of fact. All the activities cornered by this use require undistorted references and absence of fiction. If we had enough knowledge of Psychology, all necessary attitudes could be obtained from scientific references. Fictions can be used in poetry but not in opposition to scientific truths. The other use of language is the emotive use. So, language can be used for scientific purposes and also for emotive purposes. We use words scientifically and also for the expression of our emotional attitudes. References are conditions to develop attitudes and references may be true or false. Their sole purpose is to support the attitudes. Aristotle rightly observes that the plausible improbability is better than an improbable possibility.
Recently great extension in general powers of reference is made. Science is the organization of references. The motive force of science are needs and desires. The scientific use of language implies that a statement made for the sake of reference is true or false. The references must be correct for success in this use. They maintain logical connections and relations. Reference must have logical connections and relations. They should not collide with one another for future reference.
In the scientific use of the language, the difference in references is fatal. In the emotive language, it is not so. In the scientific use the references should be correct and logical. In the emotive use any truth or logical arrangement is not necessary. The connection is not logical but there is some emotional inter-connection. Then if we do not insist on truth in the emotive language, what is there to replace it? It is “probability” or “acceptability”. For example, the narrative element in “Robinson Crusoe” makes the events acceptable to the reader. A happy ending to “King Lear” or “don Quixoie” would be unacceptable. In this sense truth or what we may call truth in literature is an internal necessity. That is true which arouses our ordered impulses. Walter Pater is against surplus age in literature but superabundance is quite common in all great arts. The real point is that this surplus ages should not interfere with the desired responses.
Richards pleads for a clear grasp of simple distinction between the two uses of language. “We may either use words for the references they promote or we may use them for the sake of the attitudes and emotions which ensure.” There are several arrangements of words which operate like musical phrases and evoke attitudes without any reference being required in route. But usually references are involved as conditions for, or stages in the ensuing development of attitudes, yet it is still the attitudes, not the references which are important. In such cases it does not matter whether the references are true or false. Their sole function is to bring about and support the attitudes which are the further response. “The questioning, verificatory way of handling them is irrelevant, and in a competent reader it is not allowed to interfere.
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The two uses of language presuppose fundamental differences between the mental processes involved. There is a great difference in the notion of failure in each case. “For scientific language a difference in the references is itself failure: the end has not been attained. But for emotive language the widest differences in reference are irrelevant, if the appropriate attitude and emotion are evoked. In the scientific use of language not only must the references he correct for success, but there must be logical connections and relations of references to one another.
Another name for this internal acceptability or probability is convincingness. Even when lago cannot stand scientific scrutiny. he is convincing. There may have been no Moorish general in Venice and yet “Othello” is convincing. So, scientific truth is not emotive truth. Truth also needs sincerity. The writer must not try to hoist upon the reader the effect which he himself does not feel. Then he cannot be convincing because he is not sincere.
Richards feels that there exists some difference between scientific and emotive uses of language. Here lies the distinction between science and poetry. Richards takes a serious view of the use of language in poetry. The new criticism began with him. Richards gave his new views on the emotive use of language. The gave grounds for New Critics to explore the problems of language.
Richards describes the emotive use of language. He mentions imaginative use of fictions. In the emotive use of language, words are used for the sake of the attitudes and emotions. The function of the reference is to bring about and support the attitudes which may serve as further Response. The attitude and emotion are of the required kind. According to Aristotle. “Better a plausible impossibility than an improbable possibility.” Richards does not admit poetry as the truth of reference. The truth in connection to a work of art means the internal need of the work, or a matter of inner coherence.
Thus, here Richards conducts these investigations in order to come to some clear conclusions about what imaginative literature is and how it employs language. He also tells us how it use of language differs from the scientific use of language At the same time, he also discusses the special function and value of both these uses of language. Thus, Richards, while discussing the two uses of language, has touched upon the problem of acceptability of the artist’s creations by the public.