New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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OBJECTIVISM                                              109
cannot even be denned, since definition always involves the description of the defined objects in terms of something else. . . . Whoever, through ignorance or perversity, denies them altogether automatically excludes himself from the universes of discourse which presuppose their empirical reality, for only if this reality is admitted can their nature and import even be discussed.37
Is it not interesting that the objectivisms claim here relies solely upon intuitive certainty?
This large problem of the status of unanalyzable ultimates cannot be argued here (and it will never be definitively settled, because any solution will of course depend upon one's basic convictions concerning cognition and reality), but the questioning reader is urged to investigate recent attacks upon the foregoing kind of metaphysic which seems to the writer a chief source of intellectual confusion in many fields of knowledge. In contrast to the last quotation, consider the following:
We can say that we are dealing with a legitimate abstraction if it is possible to interpret the sentence in which it occurs into another sentence in which that abstraction no longer appears as a term. If it is impossible to do this, then we are dealing with a metaphysical white elephant, an expression which cannot be true or false because it is scientifically meaningless.38
Or, as Grudin puts it, "A man who does not know 'what a thing means/ does not 'know that thing' "; and he is thereby
37.  The Arts and the Art of Criticism, pp. 14, 15.
38.  Sidney Hook, Reason, Social Myths, and Democracy (New York, 1940), p. 17. If anyone maintains that I am confusing "abstractions" with "intuited qualities," I should reply that the unanalyzable ultimates or unique intuited qualities referred to by Greene may fairly be considered instances of the "indefinable," "illegitimate," and "vicious" abstractions discussed by Hook. Reasoned evidence for disbelieving in these abstractions is also given by J. R. Reid in his book, A Theory of Value: in chap, ii he punctures Moore's famous arguments in Principia Ethica, and in chap, v he reveals as an absurdity the notion which considers "personality" an indefinable ultimate.