It is only in recent years that serious attention is given to the language as a science. In the scientific use of language, we are usually matter of fact. All the activities covered by this use require undistorted references and absence of fiction. We may use a statement, true or false, in a scientific use of language, but it may also be used to create emotions and attitudes. This is the emotive use of language. We use words scientifically or for emotional attitudes when words are used to evoke attitudes without recourse to references like musical phrases. Aristotle wisely said, “Better a plausible impossibility than an improbable possibility.” In the scientific use of the language, the difference in reference is fatal (a failure) but in the emotive language it is not so. In the scientific use of language, the references should be correct and the relation of references should be logical. In the emotive use of language, any truth or logical arrangement is not necessary – it may work as an obstacle. The attitudes due to references should have their emotional interconnection and this has often no connection with logical relations of the facts referred to.
So Richards goes on to consider the connotations of the word ‘truth’ in criticism. In literary criticism, the common use is ‘acceptability’ or ‘probability’. For example, Robinson Crusoe is true in the sense of the acceptability of things we are told, in the interest of the narrative whether or not such a person existed in real life is not relevant to the ‘truth’ of the novel. A happy ending to King Lear or Don Quixote would be false because it would be unacceptable. In this sense ‘truth’ is equivalent to ‘internal necessity’ or ‘rightness’. That is ‘true’ which accords with the rest of the experience and arouses our ordered responses. Keats uses ‘truth’ in a confused way. He said,‘What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.” Sometimes it is held that all that is unwanted or redundant is false; as Walter Pater says, ’Surplusage! The artist will dread that, as the runner on his muscles’.
Richards tries to promote the idea of harmony between science and poetry, thus, the chief motif of the writer in this essay is to establish the difference between the language of science and the language of art.