New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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universal and yet to doubt whether he has answered the Platonic questionWhat is that which by its presence in all beautiful things renders them beautiful? 43
An analogous view is expressed by Lionello Venturi's remark that "calling form both plastic and associative shows lack of serious thought. The conjunction and is not looked on favourably in philosophy. Serious thought always tries to understand what can make two things one." 44 Thus the metaphysical chase for a non-existent entity still continues.
Sometimes, in order to give an air of empirical or perhaps even scientific plausibility to their ultimates, the objectivists will try to strengthen their argument by analogically claiming for unanalyzable abstractions the same kind and degree of objectivityif not more!that can be claimed for such secondary qualities as sound and color. Thus Greene remarks of artistic quality: "As a simple and ultimate quality it eludes analysis as inevitably as do sound and color";45 and T. S. Moore states: "Beauty is beauty as good is good, or yellow, yellow." 46
But the analogy is misleading, partly because the transaction between subject and object is far more direct and simple, less intricate and subtle in the case of a pure sound or color experience than in an artistic one, and partly because anyone advocating this analogy should be able to point to a distinct quale characterizing artistic quality, esthetic quality, or beauty, which could be reasonably compared with that of a color or sound. The analogy would hold only if beauty, artistic quality, and esthetic quality were, like color and sound,
43.  E. F. Carritt, Philosophies of Beauty (London, 1931), xxvii.
44.  Art Criticism Now, p. 43.
45.  The Arts and the Art of Criticism, p. 389. This argument, which may derive from G. E. Moore, was effectively anticipated by R. B. Perry, General Theory of Value (New York, 1926), and by J. R. Reid, op. cit.
46.  Albert Durer, p. 321.