New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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RELATIVISM
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(D) "Intentional" and "Qualitative" Evaluation
Let us distinguish between and comment upon two closely related critical principles or types of evaluation which may serve as a useful framework for judicial criticism.96 First, there is an "intentional" kind of evaluation which investigates the value of the art object in terms of the artist's aim. The critic will inquire: how successfully has the artist fulfilled his purpose? He will search for the motives and procedure of the artist and learn as accurately as possible through knowledge, reflection, intuition, and sympathy what the artist wished to communicate, the critical goal being excellence or perfection in terms of the artist's intent. Such an investigation, we earlier observed, is fraught with difficulties and provides no evidence for the existence of constant and intrinsic values; yet the investigation may succeed to a notable degree, and when it does, it offers the critic a useful and important type of appraisal.
If the critic is making comparative judgments, this intentional ideal will be especially helpful when the objects compared are of the same sort: a Greek original and a Roman copy, a French and a Spanish Gothic tympanum, the "Marriage of the Virgin" by Raphael and by Lo Spagna, or fetes galantes by Watteau and by Lancret. In making such com-
96. The following distinction is analogous to the view of Norman Foerster (quoted on page 76) upon the problem of the suspension of disbelief, and it is discussed by Foerster, in another context, in American Criticism (Boston, 1928), pp. 254-256, where he uses the word "quantitative" rather than "intentional." The same distinction is explained as follows by I. A. Richards in Principles of Literary Criticism, p. 199: "Sometimes art is bad because communication is defective, the vehicle inoperative; sometimes because the experience communicated is worthless; sometimes for both reasons." Of course many more elaborate and perhaps equally helpful frameworks have been evolved: for example, the categories of T. M. Greene, or those of George Boas who attempts to eliminate critical confusion by three pairs of distinctions: " (a) Art as artistry and art as a work of art; (b) value as instrumental and value as terminal; (c) the point of view of the artist and the point of view of the observer" (A Primer for Critics, p. 25).