On 12/22/2014 2:38 PM, Carrol Cox wrote:
> "Cogency" is Eliot's word; I spke of "refutation" and/or "confirmation." The history of criticism hardly reveals a single (non-trivial) proposition that others equally "cogent" have not disagreed with. In other words, "cogency" is NOT, in literary criticism, the equivalent of "confirmation." Eliot's Introduction to The Sacred Wood is cogent enough -- but it is unconvincing and probably few literary scholars today would agree with it.
You can understand, then, why early in his career Eliot despaired
of literary critics (not quite the same thing as scholars) and at one
point suggested that only creative artists should be critics. "Cogent"
by the way means "convincing" and "logical." The fact that literary
criticism can be conceived as a rambling mess of illogical and
unconvincing opposing opinions doesn't make Eliot's intro to the Sacred
Wood similarly illogical or unconvincing; it depends in part on whose
ears the argument falls. But cogency, I think, is a little more
substantive, and a little more rare, than you give it credit for. If I
were a literary critic, I wouldn't want to leave home without it.