New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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"ART" AND "BEAUTY"                                   25
times to the process of creation or appreciation, which in turn is of course interpreted in a number of different ways.47 Or again, the two terms are used to stand for both types of referents (objective and subjective) simultaneously and ambiguously. This verbal confusion, more common in everyday conversation than in literature, may be disastrous to satisfactory argument.
Now the variety of meanings in the foregoing quotations should surprise no one who understands the semantic situation described in the first part of this book. That is, when one realizes that similar language does not necessarily reflect similar conceptions or similar referents, diverse uses of "art" and "beauty" should be expected. Were this expectation more constantly present, many of the disagreements in writings upon beauty and art would be readily and rightly accounted for by the fact that different authors, while using the same word, are in fact speaking of different things. This phenomenon is the reverse of Schoen's suggestion, mentioned earlier, that different esthetic terminologies refer to similar things. And if semanticists are right, rather than Schoen, why should there be a single subject of study called "esthetics"? Why not several related studies to be severally investigated? If this view were accepted, the endless and futile debates about the "right" relation of art and beauty to esthetics might cease and everyone might agree to smile at peremptory statements like the following: "Thus Aesthetics, since [the time of] Baumgarten believed to be the philosophical science of
47. Professor George Boas neatly summarizes various ways in which art is considered subjective: "From the artist's point of view the proper end of artistry has been said to be (a) self-expression, (b) the expression of an emotion, (c) the expression of an idea, (d) the expression of an impression. From the observer's point of view there are four corresponding theories, according to which the end is (a) the revelation of a self, (b) the stimulation of an emotion, (c) the communication of an idea, (d) the transfer of impressions" (A Primer for Critics [Baltimore, 1937], p. 88).