New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




"ARTISTIC TRUTH"                                    71
beliefs" (i.e., for the "Sense" of the "total meaning"); the latter expresses emotional experience or offers "imaginative assents" (i.e., the "Gesture" or "intention, feeling and tone" of the "total meaning"). More recently, Bertrand Russell has urged this difference by contrasting propositions which "indicate facts" with those which "express states"; and D. G. James makes the following somewhat different distinction, which seems to me exceptionally illuminating: "The true distinction is between language having reference in the last resort only to sense-data, and used therefore for purposes of barest indication, and language used imaginatively. For in poetry the poet endeavours to convey his sense of the inner unity and quality of the object as embracing and transcending what is given in sense." 1S3
Now these differentiations are not or should not be intended to imply that the two uses of language (however the differentiation between them is exactly explained) can be rigidly pigeonholed as separate and alternative. Admittedly they "usually occur together" since "some element of reference probably enters . . . into almost all use of words." 134 Nonetheless the distinction is a valuable one and has a bearing upon the problem of verbal truth. If it is opposed or ignored, confusion concerning truth will follow, as I shall presently try to show; if it is accepted, the verbal distinction between "truth" and "belief," already urged, may likewise be accepted (as is the case with the writers mentioned in the preceding paragraph) as a clear and logical way of differentiating two kinds of discourse. Indeed this distinction between these two uses of language seems to challenge the definition of artistic insights as "truths," since the meanings of these insights are largely evocative, expressive, imaginative, unverifiable,
133.  Op.cit.,p.$o.
134.  Ogden and Richards, The Meaning of Meaning, p. 150.