New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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RELATIVISM                                               127
enormous importance of training and of cultivation of taste for criticism. In other words, "Theory of value and theory of criticism coincide; to value is to appraise, the good is the betterneither can be accounted for except in terms of the other." 71 Such a statement superficially seems to, but does not in fact imply objectivism, for good and bad, better and worse are never referred to exclusively external or absolute standards but are always considered in their relation to a specific concrete subject-object situation.
Having outlined the relatively objective and relatively subjective sides of relativist theory, we may now consider those aspects of relativism which bear directly upon the problem of critical evaluations and ask: what will a relativist art critic mean by good and bad? in precisely what sense may we believe that value judgments are better and worse, valid and invalid?
(A) "Logical" Relativism
To begin with, the critic should recognize the need for some standards, principles, or criteria72 to serve as a guide and foundation for any appraisal. His specific judgments should be informed by some theory which will explain his
71.  O. A. H. Pell, Value-Theory and Criticism (New York, 1930), p. 50.
72.  Various distinctions in meaning between these and similar terms can be and have been made on the bases (a) that some critical concepts are more fundamental or broader in scope than others, (b) that in any single critical system the more specific and particularized elements are logically deduced from the more general beliefs and definitions, and (c) that the ideas of quantitative measurement and qualitative judgments should be carefully differentiated. But as the distinctions in meaning do not seem to me fixed, and as I am anxious to avoid inordinate verbal repetition, I use these words in a flexible and largely synonymous sense which is made clear, I trust, by the context. Nowhere, however, do I mean anything so vague as the physiological standards of the subjectivist, which J. R. Reid defines as "motor-affective patterns, organic habit-systems, which constitute the inner determinants of a critical response, determining our likes and dislikes, what we accept and reject" (A Theory of Value, p. 288).