New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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"ART" AND "BEAUTY"                                       27
larly employed, confusions would be immeasurably reduced provided, of course, the authors do not use the qualifying phrases in a merely mechanical way, but specifically intend by means of them to introduce volitional definitions. Unusual, then, are the following: "Thus 'art' in the general sense which I require is any selection by which the concrete facts are so arranged as to elicit attention to particular values which are realisable by them";49 "I arbitrarily define beauty as that which produces or tends to produce in the beholder, under favorable conditions of mood and attention, an aesthetic response";50 and, "A complete unity of form and content, which is the only definition of beauty I understand, is essentially a quality of the aesthetic experience" 51a remark which combines, curiously, linguistic clarity with a wistful ignorance of multiple definitions. Even when, however, "art" and "beauty" are defined merely by the copula "is," no serious confusion need result provided the author consistently bases his ensuing explanations, descriptions, and so forth upon his originally assumed definitions. But in all cases,
If we wish to indicate what we are referring to when we use the word "Beauty" we should proceed by picking out certain starting-points, such as nature, pleasure, emotion, or truth, and then saying that what we refer to by "Beauty" is anything lying in a certain relation (imitating nature, causing pleasure or emotion, revealing truth) to these points.52
In contrast to volitional definitions are propositions like the following, which are evidently about referents, not symbols: "Art is for art's sake," "Art is an escape from chaos,"
49.  A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York, 1941), p. 287.
50.  Elisabeth Schneider, Aesthetic Motive (New York, 1939), p. 29.
51.  Andreus Ushenko, "The Relativity of Form in Art/' The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Spring, 1941, p. 80.
52.  Ogden and Richards, The Meaning of Meaning, p. 114.