New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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"ARTISTIC TRUTH"                                    77
According to this theory, then, the relevancy of artistic insights as truths will take a position midway between the two preceding attitudes: while "feeling the book/' the critic will respond sympathetically to the insights of the artist and will at that moment grasp their intuitive truth value; but while "thinking the book/' the critic will probably alter his appraisal and will be unwilling to recognize the artistic insights as truths unless, again, they by chance coincide with his own convictions. Thus in this case, the puritan critic of Rubens will react in two ways: first, judging on the basis of Rubens' intention, he will understand and will emotionally and sympathetically respond to the artist's sensuous expressiveness; second, judging on the basis of his own criteria, he will deny that this expressiveness reveals truth. In summary, we may say that the solution to the critical problem of the "willing suspension of disbelief directly affects the importance of the notion of truth as artistic insight; the solution, however, does not affect the reasonableness of defining these insights as "truths."
(4) "Artistic Significance" and "Truth"
The problem of truth as artistic insight is affected, again, by the concept of artistic "significance/' "importance," or "greatness/' Artistically we are concerned not only with the truth or belief value of insights (if, indeed, that problem concerns us at all), we are concerned with insights that are significant. Now significance is an artistic criterion which some persons do not accept and others do not understand. The problem of whether or not to accept this criterion is primarily a real one which lies beyond the scope of this book.145 An understanding of the criterion, however, is at this point essential. Such understanding may answer the typical criticism
145. For excellent defenses and analyses of this criterion, one should consult the following books: Greene, The Arts and the Art of Criticism; Walter Abell, Representation and Form (New York, 1936).