New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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"Fourth Hunting
In this book two sets of interrelated yet distinct problemsone verbal, the other realare considered as crucial aspects of artistic analyses. The first part aims to show in what ways and to what degree linguistic obstacles are responsible for the shortcomings of contemporary esthetics and art criticism. The nature of verbal problems, the confusions which may arise from a misunderstanding of them, and the correct solutions of these difficulties are briefly explained, and then illustrated by specific consideration of the terms "art," "beauty" and "artistic truth." In the second part the author seeks to discover and examine a satisfactory basis for the handling of value judgments in criticism. The extremes of objectivism and subjectivism are discussed and rejected. What is required is a third alternative, "relativism/' which comprehends no values apart from human valuations, yet which recognizes the necessity for and justifies the existence of sound judgments of better and worse. These, however, cannot ever be considered absolute or fixed, for they depend both upon philosophical assumptions and upon empirical criteria which will vary somewhat from individual to individual, from culture to culture.