New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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RELATIVISM                                         145
inferior for another. Luckily the problem is of secondary importance since, whichever alternative is true, the critic of any particular time and place must explain why, for his own culture, certain canons and creeds are better than others.
In another respect, finally, psychological relativism differs from both subjectivist and objectivist theory. By recognizing the presence in human beings of emotional and intellectual forces which are widely held and which give an important kind of continuity and stability to artistic creation and response, psychological relativism rejects that anarchy in critical postulates which subjectivism logically implies. There are certain experiences and associations, that is, of an "archetypal" character which art expresses and communicates. In her book, Archetypal Patterns in Poetry, Maud Bodkin considers such well-organized and relatively stable patterns or images as those of Heaven and Hell, Woman, the Devil, the Hero, and God; and such patterns evidently occur also in painting and in sculpture.
Recognition of archetypal patterns in art, however, in no essential way supports objectivism, because (i)^ though widely held, these patterns are not, contrary to the opinion of Bodkin, universally held even within a single racial mind or inheritance: thus any belief today in God or the Devil is repudiated by many competent artists and critics; and (ii) the multiplicity rather than the homogeneity of interpretation given to each of these broad archetypal patterns is significant for criticism and for value theory: thus the diverse conceptions of an archetypal image of God at once motivate the production of very different kinds of art and point to that basic diversity of cultural attitudes which, we have seen, is of paramount importance in producing divergent value judgments.