View Poll Results: Do you believe in total subjectivity concerning the evaluation of music's merits?

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Thread: Do you believe in total subjectivity concerning the evaluation of music's merits?

  1. #121
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Perhaps there is confusion raised by your phrase "committed to the principle that greatness in art is a figment of the imagination.". This can be interpreted to mean A) some people believe greatness does not exist at all (except possibly only in the imaginations of believers), or B) it is precisely in the imagination (of everyone) that greatness exists.

    I hold to the latter view--that greatness in the arts can and does exist but it is found precisely in the minds (imaginations) of the perceivers of art. It does not inhere within the artwork itself but rather in the relationship that the perceiver establishes with the neutral, inert artwork. Art just is. It has many properties ripe for analysis and precise measurement but greatness is not one of them. This concept over and over appears to be incomprehensible to many, yet is key to my assessment of the relationship between art and its perception.
    The problem with this - and it's a problem for me but evidently not for you - is that, by your view, ANYTHING AT ALL can be "great" if someone wants to attach that word to it. This makes the very idea of excellence, and the artist's belief in it and striving after it, a delusion. I repeat: you are "committed to the principle that greatness in art is a figment of the imagination."

    You have to choose. Either art can possess degrees of quality or it can't.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Dec-03-2020 at 05:28.

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  3. #122
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerWaters View Post
    This is kinda what I've been saying. Different people/groups have different concepts of 'greatness', causing debates like these.



    Of course they are 'exceptional' (in the sense of being novel). But this doesn't mean, to me, that they are 'great'. What's your point here? Is 'exceptional' one feature of your own concept of artistic greatness? So what? This doesn't speak to my main contention, which I think is completely bloody obvious, that different people hold different concepts of artistic greatness.



    You aren't understanding me. I don't think greatness is a figment of the imagination. I think greatness depends on one's definition of it[1]. You should really try to wrap your head around divergent opinions, in this case about the issue of subjective vs objective and how this is illuminated by thinking about divergent concepts. It's not just wise-old-you who has anything worth reading around here (although you are one of the most interesting posters).

    ---

    [1] What is greatness in art? This depends on the MEANING OF THE CONCEPT 'GREATNESS'! For God's sake - imagine trying to discover whether genes actually exist in the molecular biological machinery of organisms without having a good definition of WHAT A GENE IS (unit of hereditary, obeying certain laws identified by Mendel, etc.)!

    As it happens, and unlike the concept 'gene', the concept of 'artistic greatness' is simply so heterogeneous as to admit to little agreement - therefore, when it's time to actually look at the world to find those aspects of objective reality referred to by 'artistic greatness', there is LITTLE AGREEMENT.
    As I just said to Strange Magic, art can either exhibit actual quality or it can't. The view that all artistic values are "subjective" means, quite literally, that art can't be good, bad, better, worse, trivial, profound, or anything else indicative of quality. It means that, intrinsically, all art is of equal quality, regardless of what qualities (plural) an artist has put into it.

    No matter how often I have this discussion, i can't quite believe it.

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  5. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    As I just said to Strange Magic, art can either exhibit actual quality or it can't. The view that all artistic values are "subjective" means, quite literally, that art can't be good, bad, better, worse, trivial, profound, or anything else indicative of quality. It means that, intrinsically, all art is of equal quality, regardless of what qualities (plural) an artist has put into it.

    No matter how often I have this discussion, i can't quite believe it.
    You should feel special. It's the power of your imagination that makes Beethoven's 9th great. Beethoven had nothign to do with it.

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  7. #124
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DjPooChoo View Post
    You should feel special. It's the power of your imagination that makes Beethoven's 9th great. Beethoven had nothign to do with it.
    Gosh. I didn't know my own strength. Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

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  9. #125
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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  10. #126
    Senior Member RogerWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    As I just said to Strange Magic, art can either exhibit actual quality or it can't. The view that all artistic values are "subjective" means, quite literally, that art can't be good, bad, better, worse, trivial, profound, or anything else indicative of quality. It means that, intrinsically, all art is of equal quality, regardless of what qualities (plural) an artist has put into it.

    No matter how often I have this discussion, i can't quite believe it.
    You have your standards by which all art is not equal. Most people do too, however they would rank different qualities differently from what you do.

    'Intrinsically speaking', though, of course all art is of equal value (that is to say, it is of zero intrinsic value, in and of itself, without the reactive attitudes of human beings). How on earth could art be valuable aside from the reactive attitudes of human beings?! And after you've admitted this, then you have to contend with the fact different human beings have different reactive attitudes...
    Last edited by RogerWaters; Dec-03-2020 at 05:43.

  11. #127
    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    It means that, intrinsically, all art is of equal quality, regardless of what qualities (plural) an artist has put into it.
    The issue here is your forcing of the objective definition, all equal in 'quality.' Quality isn't an objective definition, therefore art does not have this definition 'all equal in quality.' You must find an objective (factual) definition if you want to communicate with us humans, for instance: influential, written by prolific artists, favored by popular critics, are 'qualities' (a different word) that have nothing to do with 'quality' (a subjective, depending one.) Even 'reminds me of greatness' is an objective fact, because you're using the correct words 'reminds me' to describe a fact. If you said 'it is objectively great', you would be writing in some kind of fictional language for fiction stories. It wouldn't be computable to most people.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Dec-03-2020 at 07:02.

  12. #128
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    The issue here is your forcing of the objective definition, all equal in 'quality.' Quality isn't an objective definition, therefore art does not have this definition 'all equal in quality.' You must find an objective (factual) definition if you want to communicate with us humans, for instance: influential, written by prolific artists, are 'qualities' (a different word) that have nothing to do with 'quality' (a subjective, depending one.) Even 'reminds me of greatness' is an objective factual quality, because you're simply stating an opinion you have.
    Every time you speak to me you find a new insult. Now it's "if you want to communicate with us humans." What's your problem? Did you get dropped in the toilet in infancy? It has to be something.

  13. #129
    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

    Quote Originally Posted by DjPooChoo View Post
    You should feel special. It's the power of your imagination that makes Beethoven's 9th great. Beethoven had nothign to do with it.
    Not sure why you say that. Many people of experience find Beethoven's 9th to be great personally, because humans come from one another, but no true path or objective for the existence of musical greatness has ever been proven likely, as humanity has been more subject to change and evolution of standards and opinions than an ability to locate any static, permanent standard of 'beauty' or 'meaning'. The latter will never happen, as diversification is the cause of all things we can measure.

    To give my input on this then, there are certain people arguing in sane manners that objective greatness exists, and I agree with them, because great is an objective term, it means big or influential. However I don't like to focus on greatness, I prefer looking at subjective acclaim and criticism: Many experienced listeners and critics have noted qualities in the Big 3 they enjoy immensely. That's it.

    Finally, to tie this to the thread question, "Do you believe in total subjectivity concerning the evaluation of music's merits?" the answer is yes. While many of us have similar musical preferences, none of these preferences are objective. Objectivity concerns facts only. The radical subjectivist will continue arguing that these qualities enjoyed are objective to all humans, and as long as their fantasies and fiction writings don't include everyone, they can be right.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Dec-03-2020 at 09:09.

  14. #130
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerWaters View Post
    You have your standards by which all art is not equal. Most people do too, however they would rank different qualities differently from what you do.

    'Intrinsically speaking', though, of course all art is of equal value (that is to say, it is of zero intrinsic value, in and of itself, without the reactive attitudes of human beings). How on earth could art be meaningful aside from the attitudes of human beings?! And after you've admitted this, then you have to contend with the fact different human beings have different reactive attitudes...
    Since the act of valuing necessitates a valuer, you are correct in saying that, in this sense, art has no intrinsic value. In this sense, nothing has intrinsic value. However, there are things of value to human beings as such of which art can give evidence and to which it can give perceptible representation, and this is true even if a given specimen of art possessing these values is not valued by a particular individual. For example, two universal values of human beings are intelligence and competence. Can art, in the choices the artist makes, show degrees of intelligence and competence at work, and can it give these abstract values sensuous representation? It should be obvious that it can, both in its physical design and in its subject matter. It can be purposefully composed and finely executed, or it can be aimlessly and awkwardly composed and clumsy and unfocused in its execution. It makes perfect sense to consider art of the former kind superior to art of the latter kind, all else being equal (please note the qualification), and the general judgment of people everywhere and through all time confers positive subjective valuation on these objectively present traits. When people see or hear work in which these values are embodied, they naturally respond with pleasure and approval. What sort of human being would respond with displeasure and disapproval?

    I'll stop there and let you respond.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Dec-03-2020 at 06:25.

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  16. #131
    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DjPooChoo View Post
    You should feel special. It's the power of your imagination that makes Beethoven's 9th great. Beethoven had nothign to do with it.
    Not sure why you say that. Many people of experience find Beethoven's 9th to be great personally, because humans come from one another, but no true path or objective for the existence of musical greatness has ever been proven likely, as humanity has been more subject to change and evolution of standards and opinions than an ability to locate any static, permanent standard of 'beauty' or 'meaning'. The latter will never happen, as diversification is the cause of all things we can measure.

    To give my input on this then, there are certain people arguing in sane manners that objective greatness exists, and I agree with them, because great is an objective term, it means big or influential. However I don't like to focus on greatness, I prefer looking at subjective acclaim and criticism: Many experienced listeners and critics have noted qualities in the Big 3 they enjoy immensely. That's it.

    Finally, to tie this to the thread question, "Do you believe in total subjectivity concerning the evaluation of music's merits?" the answer is yes. While many of us have similar musical preferences, none of these preferences are objective. Objectivity concerns facts only. The radical subjectivist will continue arguing that these qualities enjoyed are objective to all humans, and as long as their fantasies and fiction writings don't include everyone, they can be right.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Dec-03-2020 at 09:04.

  17. #132
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    The problem with this - and it's a problem for me but evidently not for you - is that, by your view, ANYTHING AT ALL can be "great" if someone wants to attach that word to it. This makes the very idea of excellence, and the artist's belief in it and striving after it, a delusion. I repeat: you are "committed to the principle that greatness in art is a figment of the imagination."

    You have to choose. Either art can possess degrees of quality or it can't.
    I believe we are getting somewhere. In place of "wants to attach that word (great) to it", we say 'if someone thinks it's great". This does no violence at all to the very idea of excellence--it merely brings it into the area where it belongs, the perception of the perceiver of the artwork and the separate perception of the artist as individuals. The artist still strives all they want; no one is stopping them. The artist's striving for excellence is no delusion, or need not be. Let's consider both Ravel's Bolero and Rachmaninoff's C-Sharp Minor Prelude: we have here two pieces--one a bit of hackwork, the other a bagatelle on the testimony of their creators. Both pieces are regarded as mini-masterpieces by millions, yet there is a disjunct between the artists' strivings for excellence and a perceived excellence in the ears and minds of the audotors (many of them).

    I have chosen ("You have to choose."). Art just is. It has many qualities, but greatness is not one of them.

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  19. #133
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Since the act of valuing necessitates a valuer, you are correct in saying that, in this sense, art has no intrinsic value. In this sense, nothing has intrinsic value. However, there are things of value to human beings as such of which art can give evidence and to which it can give perceptible representation, and this is true even if a given specimen of art possessing these values is not valued by a particular individual. For example, two universal values of human beings are intelligence and competence. Can art, in the choices the artist makes, show degrees of intelligence and competence at work, and can it give these abstract values sensuous representation? It should be obvious that it can, both in its physical design and in its subject matter. It can be purposefully composed and finely executed, or it can be aimlessly and awkwardly composed and clumsy and unfocused in its execution. It makes perfect sense to consider art of the former kind superior to art of the latter kind, all else being equal (please note the qualification), and the general judgment of people everywhere and through all time confers positive subjective valuation on these objectively present traits. When people see or hear work in which these values are embodied, they naturally respond with pleasure and approval. What sort of human being would respond with displeasure and disapproval?
    We can run into real problems here especially in painting. Consider the aforementioned Albert Pinkham Ryder's art contrasted with the lifeless, deadly precision of Ingres or Alma-Tadema. Both Ingres and Alma-Tadema could paint circles around Ryder, but his art is both alive and mysteriously so, while the art of the other two is suffocating in its almost kitsch-like treatment of its subject matter.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Dec-03-2020 at 09:28.

  20. #134
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    As I just said to Strange Magic, art can either exhibit actual quality or it can't. The view that all artistic values are "subjective" means, quite literally, that art can't be good, bad, better, worse, trivial, profound, or anything else indicative of quality. It means that, intrinsically, all art is of equal quality, regardless of what qualities (plural) an artist has put into it.

    No matter how often I have this discussion, i can't quite believe it.
    No, No, No. In the many minds of art's many perceivers and creators, art as an experience can be good, bad, better, worse, trivial. profound, or anything else indicative of quality--if thinking makes it so.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Dec-03-2020 at 09:24.

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  22. #135
    Senior Member Isaac Blackburn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    No, No, No. In the many minds of art's many perceivers and creators, art as an experience can be good, bad, better, worse, trivial. profound, or anything else indicative of quality--if thinking makes it so.
    Music is made as a structure of experience, and the experience of the listener depends directly on features within the music itself.

    It is true that these structures of experience presuppose human perception. An alien species with a much slower perception of time would be unable to enjoy Beethoven's Ninth, but this is only an indictment on the supposed universality of the perceptual ordering structure upon which the work was made, and not the work itself.

    If the alien, for example, could be induced into a human-like mode of perception, they would also believe. The work is "accessible" only from one set of perceptual parameters- it is not "bad" for aliens and "good" for humans, it is instead independently "good", and meant to be perceived as a human would perceive it.

    All works of art are created as such because humans are the only species that we know of. Thus, the standard ordering structure is objective enough for us, since it encapsulates all possible forms of experience by sapient beings.

    But there may come a time when we need more than one ordering structure for the work- different glasses for different eyes. If we are willing to expand the definition of a musical work to the set of all its temporal (or pitch, etc) transformations, then we could play the Ninth at half-speed to an alien species for whom time seems to pass twice as fast, or transposed to higher pitch for an alien species sensitive to a higher range of frequencies. In that case, it is even more evident that the structure itself is universally, objectively good, even if it must be presented within the perceptual range of its listener.
    Last edited by Isaac Blackburn; Dec-03-2020 at 15:27.

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