"The term 'literary criticism' is used here in its broadest possible sense. It includes literary history, literary theory, and literary appreciation and evaluation. In the case of Liu Hsieh, these three are closely interwoven and give his work an underlying unity in the midst of apparent chaos.
"Liu's desire to write the Wen-hsin tiao-lung arises from his dissatisfaction with the general state of literary production of the times, and with the fragmentary manner in which literary criticism has been dealt with. As a prelude to his work, he reviews existing critical works and gives to each an epigrammatic verdict which implies some general criteria of his own. Of Ts'ao P'ei, Lu Chi, Chih Yi, and others, he says, 'Each... reflects a particular corner of the field; few have envisioned the whole open vista.' And he further comments, 'They are all unable to trace back from the leaves to the roots; or back from the tide to its source.'
. . .
"Liu has an interesting idea of a competent critic. In his opinion a competent critic is one who, to begin with, is widely acquainted with literature and highly sensitive to its intrinsic values. Then there are other prerequisites to the understanding of a piece of literature: the ability to recognize the genre and style, the ability to evaluate the quality of the rhetorical elements, the ability to determine if the work complies with the principle of adaptability to change, and the ability to distinguish between the extraordinary and the orthodox in subject matter and to pass judgment on the appropriateness of historical allusions and musical patterns. Above all, the critic should be able through imagination to trace back from the words to the feeling of the author, a criterion that vaguely indicates a belief in the oneness of the creative genius and appreciative taste. Through these abilities, a critic is enabled to grasp the meaning or the esthetic beauty of a literary work. But an understanding critic is rare, because most people depreciate their contemporaries and worship only the Ancients. However, an appreciative critic is essential to the realization of the value of a literary work. For works of art are never completed once and for all. Their value is ever enhanced by the appreciation and re-interpretation across the ages by critics who bring to their perusal their ever deepening experience. So, Liu Hsieh suggested, a literary work loses much of its richness if it is not appreciated."
Link to The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons