New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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132                            PROBLEMS IN EVALUATION
the quality of uniting all men in one common feelingdoes it rank as Christian universal art? And again I have no option but to reply in the negative; . . . And therefore, whether I like it or not, I am compelled to conclude that this work belongs to the rank of bad art.79
Berenson, on the contrary, seems to realize that criteria are, to a degree, tentative: "He does not possess a hard-and-fast doctrine: he explicates and modifies his thinking as he goes along, and if his experience of the particular painter with whom he is concerned at the moment seems to demand an explanation which does not immediately tally with some previous explanation, he does not hesitate (as a doctrinaire might) to bring it forward." 80 In Berenson's criticism, for example, artistic content is usually of subsidiary importance; when appraising certain artists, however, he modifies this usual position and applauds the rendering of the "literary/* "human," and "spiritual" values.
(B) "Psychological" and "Sociological" Relativism
Implied by and connected with the derivative and tentative nature of relativist criteria is their psychologically relative character. In order best to explain this aspect of the necessary empirical standards, the relativist must first make a philosophical assumption. He will assume (on the basis of what seems to him overwhelming evidence) that there exist a number of better kinds of people; hence he will draw the conclusion that no one can justifiably claim superiority for any single psychological type. George Santayana expresses this view in a memorable passage:
The lion and the eagle were ideal in their way: so were the gazelle and the lark in theirs. Who should say which was better?
79.  op. cit., p. 249.
80.  Howard Hannay, Roger Fry and Other Essays (London, 1937), p. 68.