New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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(D) Two Analogical Arguments
There are, of course, minor arguments in defense of objectivism. A recent one, which is used in support of a belief approximating absolutism, depends upon the following analogy between Greene's interpretation of artistic perfection and Aristotle's interpretation of moral value. Now the mean in ethics for Aristotle is not one which is " 'one and the same for all men,' but rather the 'intermediate relative to us' "; or again, "All moral decisions, since they are 'relative to us,' are particular decisions." 56 However, "Aristotle is careful to point out that there is actually one and only one completely virtuous course of action for any specific individual in any concrete situation, and this course of action is objectively valid and morally compelling." 57 On the basis of this Aristotelian position, what analogy does Greene draw? Briefly, that just as there is a single right course of action for an individual in any one situation, so is there a "specific artistic form" which "is absolutely right for a specific work of art." But would not a more exact and telling analogy suggest that just as moral values are different for different moral agents, so artistic values are relative to and dependent upon different types of observers? On the same page, Greene explains his point further: "What is relative to a unique frame of reference need not, on that account, be 'merely* relative. It can be absolutely valid in that specific context. If Q is valid for S1 and R for S2, Q and R are not absolutely valid without qualification; but Q is none the less absolutely valid for S1, and R for SV Whereas Greene would have Q and R stand for different artistic "forms" and S1 and S2 for different works of art, I should suggest that S1 and S2 might be different types of individuals and Q and R value judgments. My aim is not to press
56.  Greene, op. cit., pp. 393, 394.
57.  Ibid.,p.%Q6.