New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

"ARTISTIC TRUTH"                                         67
thing "true" about things. Similarly one might say that Masaccio in the Brancacci chapel is not merely being sincere; he is expressing a physical and moral grandeur which "rings true" to our experience of the noblest human beings. And when Susanne Langer states that "music can reveal the nature of feelings with a detail and truth that language cannot approach," 126 she explains this fact by the greater congruence of "musical forms" with the "forms of human feeling"; in using the word "truth," she is referring to a correspondence between certain artistic "forms" and a certain sort of reality. The wonder and mystery expressed in the Rembrandt, then, convey to many sensitive people insights or revelations of reality. The "ideas" in the painting seem to correspond with an actuality outside of the ideas. Since, however, this correspondence between these insights or revelations and this actuality is not a scientifically or publicly testable one, the crucial questions arise: what is the ontological status of un-verifiable insights, beliefs, intuitions, and so forth? and how may they most accurately be described? At this point we encounter five problems of critical importance which will be briefly considered in order to illuminate, in various ways, the problem of truth as artistic insight.
(j) Intuitive and Conceptual Truth
Most philosophers probably agree that truth may in some sense be predicated of the results produced by the activity of the "intuition" or "imagination." Most philosophers probably also agree that some broad distinction should be made between "intuitive" or "imaginative" truth, on the one hand, and "scientific," "conceptual," "demonstrative," "logical," or "intellectual" truth on the other.127 In whatever precise terms
126.  Philosophy in a New Key, p. 235.
127.  The term "knowledge" might, of course, be substituted in this context for "truth." But it seems unnecessary to complicate this discussion by considering the possible relationships between truth and knowledge.