New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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94                              PROBLEMS IN EVALUATION
lectual effort of the activity of "judgment/* No doubt one would always wish to have liking and approbation coincide. No doubt, also, each of these activities stimulates the other since, as Professor Boas says: "There is a tendency on the part of all men to approve of what they like and to like what they have reason to approve of." * Nonetheless, the phenomenon of liking more than we approve and of approving more than we like is by no means uncommon. When Mr. Berenson, for example, actually rejoiced over the theft of the "Mona Lisa" from the Louvre, he was expressing a temporary distaste for a painting which he evaluates highly. Current opinions about Rubens, moreover, indicate that likings or tastes rate his art less highly than do reflective judgments. Or again, I at times intensely enjoy the most extravagant of baroque creations without wholly approving them, and I find it difficult, even while admiring Signorelli's art enormously, to like it more than moderately. To cite one further instance of the separation between taste and judgment: an expert literary critic recently remarked to me that, while he knew Dickens was a great writer, he found it nearly impossible to read him; in this case approbation and actual disliking went hand in hand.
The foregoing critical distinction, then, serves to bolster the objectivist belief in the approximate uniformity of reasoned critical appraisals. However, this supposed uniformity -which I shall later challenge in some detailis in fact unessential to objectivism; for even were everyone to disagree as to the value of an object, the consistent objectivist must maintain that the amount of agreement is essentially irrelevant to his theory, since a specific value is ontologically there.
A typical illustration of objectivism occurs in the writing of W. T. Stace: "Even in questions of beauty a certain latitude is, of course, allowed to personal likes and dislikes. One man prefers Keats's 'Ode to the Nightingale' to the same poet's
i. George Boas, A Primer for Critics, p. 59. Boas makes a good deal of the distinction which is briefly considered here.