New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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VI
PREFACE
discussing evaluation first is the dependence of some semantic questions upon philosophical systems; yet, all things considered, it seemed somewhat preferable to tackle the verbal thickets before the ontological ones. The interrelation between the two sets of problems is such, however, that the treatment of one set does not crucially affect that of the other; thus a reader who is solely interested in value judgments need not study the semantic issues. The arguments concerning evaluation will stand by themselves.
In the selection of illustrative material, the reason for the relative neglect of art history throughout and for the emphasis upon esthetics in the first part and upon art criticism in the second is a simple one: 1 wished to use those examples which, wherever they might occur, would best illustrate the arguments. Since art historians tend both to treat material of primarily archeological and historical interest and to consider this material solely in terms of iconographic and stylistic analyses, their writings are of minor significance in the present contexts. Both estheticians and art critics, on the other hand, are deeply concerned with evaluations, and the writings of each raise fascinating semantic questions. In general, however, esthetics offers the most interesting verbal problems, while art criticism seems best to illustrate problems in evaluation. Since this book deals primarily with the current condition of art criticism and esthetics, contemporary examples predominate; but this fact in no way denies the great debt which many modern critics owe to Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, Kant, Hegel, Coleridge, and other writers of the past. Material from literary criticism has been deliberately included in both essays since this criticism, being more fully developed today than art criticism, presents unusually interesting examples of the problems I am considering.
Some readers may resent the length of several of the footnotes. From the standpoint of other readers, however, who are interested only in the linguistic and critical aspects of the