New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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OBJECTIVISM                                         105
unquestioned rule that in painting drawing is far more important than color.
Or if our contemporary ideas as to the fundamentals of art and beauty are compared with those of the nineteenth century, how can one expect anything other than divergent critical estimates? Are we to conclude that Ruskin was wrong absolutely in holding that the chief functions of Fine Art are to influence the religious sentiments of men, to perfect their ethical state, and to render them material service? Finally, if because of basically diverse artistic attitudes our most characteristic standards and judgments inevitably differ from those of past centuries in western culture, shall we not expect to find even greater dissimilarity between our standards and judgments and those of Eastern critics of all periods? If so, it is not surprising, though it is interesting and significant, that there is no exact equivalence in Chinese art criticism for any such familiar western concepts as unity, proportion, scale, and movement.
Professor T. M. Greene cites an instructive example of shifting attitudes: "The Dorian mode, which to the Greek ear was strong and virile, is, to our ear, a minor scale with an entirely different set of emotive-conative associations, somewhat as white is the expressive symbol of death and mourning for the Chinese and Japanese, as black is for us." 31 This admission that something may have opposed yet apparently legitimate values for different cultures is fundamentally destructive of a consistent objectivism, for if a quality recognized by one period as a certain kind of value becomes for another period an entirely different value, how can the value reasonably be considered to have ontological subsistence in
31. The Arts and the Art of Criticism, p. 332. I take this opportunity to remark that my various adverse criticisms of Mr. Greene's book, even if justified, in no essential way invalidate the main portion of his arguments and analyses.