New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




OBJECTIVISM                                          93
mality, as opposed to eccentricity, which will make his range of experience sufficiently central to be available for participation by others; and (vi) a critical system which will present a satisfactory theoretical basis for artistic evaluations. To this last qualification of the expert critic we shall now give our attention.
I. OBJECTIVISM
Objectivism or absolutism typically holds that a definite amount of value resides intrinsically in the object in the sense that the value has ontological subsistence and is independent of any human relationship. It follows that the objectivist critic will believe in the existence of absolute, ultimate standards which lie outside or above human evaluations, will maintain that there is one and only one correct taste, and will strive for that objective rightness of judgment which, given his assumptions, must exist. To be sure, because of human finitude and fallibility, these ultimate standards can never be known and the absolute goal of correct judgment never be attained; yet expert critics will approximately agree in their evaluations even if their individual idiosyncrasies prevent them from liking and disliking in proportion as they approve or disapprove.
The objectivist, that is to say, naturally recognizes disagreement among competent critics, but he tends to explain this away by suggesting that while the personal, highly subjective likings of experts may vary, their more intellectually considered appraisals remain nearly constant. He thus finds support for his theory in the important critical distinction between liking, which is essentially a sensuous, immediate activity, and approbation, which is primarily rational and reflectivea distinction which some describe by contrasting the emotional spontaneity of the activity of "taste" with the intel-