New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




122
PROBLEMS IN EVALUATION
in large measure upon sheer intuitive certainty. Thus it is interesting but not surprising that certain objectivists, or rather pseudo-objectivists, grant that all artistic principles arise in the human mind. As Sir Joshua, who is at pains to defend the strictest sort of rules, remarks: "What has pleased, and continues to please, is likely to please again: hence are derived the rules of art, and on this immoveable foundation they must ever stand." 64
Any criticism, however, which seeks a more definite and substantial foundation for appraisals will repudiate as inadequate all subjective insights, for these latter are an insufficient basis for criticism regarded as reasoned discrimination and estimation. These intuitive insights, to be sure, may be called "judgments," if "judgments" are defined in terms of the senses or of mere liking; but if "judgment" is considered to any extent a rational, intellectual activity, they are emphatically not judgments at all. Rather, they are exclamations expressive of approval or the reverse and "may be stated in judgments if we wish to go to the trouble to do so, instead of merely exclaiming 'Ouch!' or 'Ah!' or 'Phew!' or 'Stunning!' " 63 Indeed the conclusion seems inescapable that subjective theory supports a de gustibus non est disputandum attitude which renders impossible in criticism reflective judgments, value propositions, and any concept of standards or validity which is more than personally binding. Training, discriminating perception, education, thought, and knowledge are then critically irrelevant, so that, as John Dewey truly says, "The conception that mere liking is adequate to constitute a value situation makes no provision for the education and cultivation of taste and renders criticism, whether esthetic, moral, or logical, arbitrary and absurd." 66 When this
64.  Discourses, VII, p. 209.
65.  J. R. Reid, A Theory of Value, pp. 211-212.
66.  "The Meaning of Value," Journal of Philosophy, February, 1925, p. 131.