New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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OBJECTIVISM                                         115
of the theory we are considering supports a relativist, not an objectivist approach, seems granted by Wilenski himself in his preference eight years later for the term "artist-acquired" instead of "intrinsic" as an epithet descriptive of artistic values.
Further, if values are to mean what the artist wishes to communicate, in what terms can we discuss the esthetic values of nature? The reply of Professor Greene and others that whereas the values of art objects are objective (the exact meaning of "objective" in this context is unimportant), those of nature are subjective, would rarely occur to anyone but a metaphysician. According to this theory, the esthetic experience of nature is creative rather than re-creative in that man projects into nature his own emotions and impulses, ascribing to nature "the expressive forms in terms of which he aesthetically apprehends it."53 Thus things not man-made, it is urged, lack the objective values of artistic creations and require, therefore, a diametrically opposed philosophical analysis. Coleridge neatly expresses this view in his remark that "the venison is agreeable because it gives pleasure; while the Apollo Belvedere is not beautiful because it pleases, but it pleases us because it is beautiful."54 But as Shawcross rightly explains, Coleridge reaches this conclusion by the unjustifiable expedient of interpreting the "agreeable" or the "beautiful" subjectively in one breath, objectively in the next; and he adds: "To the assertion 'the Apollo pleases us because it is beautiful' an objector might reasonably reply 'yes; and the venison pleases us because it is tasty.' "53 In short: is not this sharp distinction between two obviously connected sorts of experience unreal and fantastic? Does it not suggest that the interpretation of both is incorrect?
53.  Greene, The Arts and the Art of Criticism, p. 10.
54.  Biographia Literaria (London, 1939), II, 224. J. Shawcross, ed.
55.  Ibid., p. 308.