New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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PROBLEMS IN MEANING
tions; for he informs us, by means of a real definition, what realism is; and his real definition, be it observed, is identical with the meaning which Post, after carefully studying the connotations attached to "realism" "by the majority of discriminating writers/' considers "esoteric"!
In concluding this summary analysis of certain major semantic problems, one may say that the general method used in solving these problems is one of "interpretation." Thus the remainder of this essay attempts to interpret correctly various usessome legitimate, some illegitimateof the words "art," "beauty," and "truth." While no semanticist will question the need of such interpretation, others will say that much ado is being made about very little. Is not the complexity of critical interpretation, some may ask, grossly exaggerated? A few pages from Dr. Richards' Mencius on the Mindor, indeed, pages from any of his booksshould convince one to the contrary. To be sure, one might expect interpretative difficulties to be formidable when analyzing the meanings of Mencius, a Chinese writer of the fourth century B.C.; but how formidable they are can only be appreciated by learning that fundamental cleavages in mental constitutions probably exist between Mencius and ourselves.30 More impressive, perhaps, because more immediate to us, is Richards' demonstration of the "linguistic disability" of T. S. Eliot to grasp any of the "superfluity of meanings" in Keats's "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." 31
Still other opponents of the semantic procedure followed in
30.  Cf. the following sentences of Sir Charles Sherrington: "Kant seems to assume the human mind to be a finished thing, a completed item of existence. But the human mind is part of a tide of change which, in its instance, has been latterly and, we may think, still is, running like a mill-race. Living things are all the time busy becoming something other than what they are. And this, our mind, with the rest. It is being made along with our planet's making. We do not know that it ever will be finished" (Man on His Nature [New York, 1941], p. 169).
31.  Mencius on the Mind (New York, 1932), p. 117,