New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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OBJECTIVISM                                         117
this point but rather to show how readily such analogies can be turned against their originator.
A second analogical argument endeavors to defend objectivism by comparing artistic values with certain aspects of scientific truths. Some writers hold, for instance, that far more radical changes have occurred in the development of science than in the fluctuation of taste and that, consequently, artistic values are comparatively stablea contention which the foregoing evidence against objectivism renders highly dubious and which in any case seems unimportant or even irrelevant when one contrasts the current unanimity of scientific opinion with the current diversity of artistic evaluations. More telling is the attempt, which was made in correspondence with me by Professor Andrew Bongiorno of Oberlin College, to refute the argument that changing judgments of values prove that values have no objective subsistence by pointing out that changing views of the nature of the physical world do not prove that physical phenomena change with men's notions of them. But is it not evident that the only reasonable analogy to be drawn from this comparison is that, just as changing views of the nature of the physical world do not prove that physical phenomena change with men's notions of them, so changing views of works of art do not prove that these works change physically with men's notions of them? The very different analogy which Bongiorno makes between artistic values and physical phenomena is unreasonable because it assumes, in a most unwarranted way, that artistic values and physical phenomena are, to an equal degree, intrinsic objective quales. All available empirical evidence seems to show, on the contrary, that artistic values, unlike physical phenomena, are largely dependent upon an experiencing subject; to use Koffka's terminology, they are "functionally subjective." Bon-giorno's argument further runs that just as there are scientific facts which are now unknown but which may become known in the future, likewise there are inherent values in art objects