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Thread: the politics of objective greatness in art

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Re post #600, Zhdanov must be incandescent by now!
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Apr-30-2021 at 16:42.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

    ‘When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!‘

    ‘It will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!’

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    My tastes in reading are as varied as my tastes in music. I love reading and will read anything that grabs my interest be it Mann, Shakespeare, Rankin, Graphic novels or as some would have it, comics, history, biography, crime fiction, sci-fi, whatever. It’s all great.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Apr-30-2021 at 14:34.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

    ‘When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!‘

    ‘It will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!’

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  5. #603
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Art isn't good because vast numbers of people like it. They like it because it's good, which means, basically, that human experience and consciousness have produced something exceptionally capable of communicating meaningfully with and about human experience and consciousness, the demonstration of which is that it actually does so to a significant degree.
    Beware the essentialism fallacy. As Morris Weitz put it, "Art has no set of necessary and sufficient properties, hence a theory of it is logically impossible."

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    That which we call "classical music" is not greater or better than any other kind of music, it is just a different expression. If you find yourself needing to claim or prove that classical music is better, you might ask yourself why you need to do that.

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    Senior Member Jacck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    I noticed a couple of references to The Brothers Karamazov. Has anyone actually read it? I have. That’s a week of my life I’ll never get back. I’ve also read the Twilight Saga. Again that’s more time lost. As a subjective comparison they are in the same ballpark for giving me either pleasure or enlightenment. Objectively? There are better books to read imho.
    Prescriptive text put Kalamazoo instead of Karamazov. Now that made me smile!
    Of course I read it, and I might even say that it is the best novel I ever read. I think one of the reasons why the subjectivists so vehemently opose any notion of an objective hierarchy in art is that it would automatically imply that there is also a hierarchy in the capacity to appreciate art. I am an elitist, so I believe that only people above certain intelligence level, sensitivity, maturity and philosophical depth, can fully appreciate the Brothers Karamazov. And those who cannot appreciate it? Well.... And likewise those who listen to classical music are more refined in their taste, than those crude folks who listen to rap or any other degenerate art form . This problem of elitism might even be at the heart of this whole discussion.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacck View Post
    Of course I read it, and I might even say that it is the best novel I ever read. I think one of the reasons why the subjectivists so vehemently opose any notion of an objective hierarchy in art is that it would automatically imply that there is also a hierarchy in the capacity to appreciate art. I am an elitist, so I believe that only people above certain intelligence level, sensitivity, maturity and philosophical depth, can fully appreciate the Brothers Karamazov. And those who cannot appreciate it? Well.... And likewise those who listen to classical music are more refined in their taste, than those crude folks who listen to rap or any other degenerate art form . This problem of elitism might even be at the heart of this whole discussion.
    I take it that some people have more valid, more authentic, more "worthwhile", more moving experiences of art than others. How can we determine this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    I noticed a couple of references to The Brothers Karamazov. Has anyone actually read it? I have. That’s a week of my life I’ll never get back. I’ve also read the Twilight Saga. Again that’s more time lost. As a subjective comparison they are in the same ballpark for giving me either pleasure or enlightenment. Objectively? There are better books to read imho.

    Prescriptive text put Kalamazoo instead of Karamazov. Now that made me smile!
    I've read it all the way through twice, most recently almost 25 years ago. I return to my favorite passages more often -- especially, of course, the conversation between Ivan and Alyosha.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    That which we call "classical music" is not greater or better than any other kind of music, it is just a different expression. If you find yourself needing to claim or prove that classical music is better, you might ask yourself why you need to do that.
    If you find yourself needing to claim or prove that classical music is not greater or better than any other kind of music, you might ask yourself why you need to do that.

    That classical music isn't better than other music is not an objective truth.

    It is probably objectively true that classical music is more complex designed and usually longer than most other music.

    "Better" is a rating and subjective. A personally think that some other music has advantages too, but overall I clearly prefer classical music.

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aries View Post
    If you find yourself needing to claim or prove that classical music is not greater or better than any other kind of music, you might ask yourself why you need to do that.
    Do you claim that classical music is superior? Because I make no such claim about any music: better or worse.

    Music just is - I enjoy all of it. I have yet to find examples of any music which I could not enjoy, depending upon my mood.
    Last edited by SanAntone; Apr-30-2021 at 15:44.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacck View Post
    This problem of elitism might even be at the heart of this whole discussion.
    Indeed. Why use sophistry and silliness to pretend otherwise? Nothing I've said here is original to me. I'm not that smart. All of it has been thoroughly discussed by well known writers in the fields of art and aesthetics, especially in the mid-20th century. Those writers knew all about the Bauhaus school, Dada, Cubism, Theater of the Absurd, and later in that era, John Cage, and even Andy Warhol. Many of them were big fans of Beethoven, Keats, and the pre-Raphaelites. So the question, What is art? was a hot issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Subjectivity has two senses, and I'm assuming both of them. One sense simply distinguishes consciousness and its contents ("subjective") from external reality ("objective"). The other sense implies preference or opinion rather than verifiable fact. I assert that artistic qualities and quality are to some extent verifiable and thus not wholly subjective in sense number two. But they are verifiable "in the context of human experience and consciousness," which implies that they must be verified by every individual consciousness. This does in fact happen in the world, and on a large scale. "Inter-subjectivity" is a fine descriptor, but it exists because of real qualities which exist prior to anyone's valuation of them. Art isn't good because vast numbers of people like it. They like it because it's good, which means, basically, that human experience and consciousness have produced something exceptionally capable of communicating meaningfully with and about human experience and consciousness, the demonstration of which is that it actually does so to a significant degree.
    There's a lot there of course. Probably too much to respond to all at once in a productive way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I assert that artistic qualities and quality are to some extent verifiable and thus not wholly subjective in sense number two. But they are verifiable "in the context of human experience and consciousness," which implies that they must be verified by every individual consciousness. This does in fact happen in the world, and on a large scale.
    Maybe we should just start here. I wonder about the phrase "verified by every individual consciousness."

    Given that people -- even the most knowledgeable people who share basically the same culture and have deep expertise -- disagree about art, what exactly does this mean? I can imagine two models:

    In the objectivist model, the art has certain qualities which every sentient being ought to respond to in exactly the same way. It's just an objective truth that X is beautiful, Y is not, and that Z is more beautiful than X. Everyone capable of verifying it will reach the same conclusion, the way that everyone capable of any given empirical or mathematical claim will reach the same conclusion. Only one conclusion is possible because we are dealing with objective facts, and to reach the wrong conclusion is to be in error, possibly to be a dunce.

    In the subjectivist model, sure, work X has some objective (you can say "inherent") qualities, as does work Y and work Z, but subjects A and B and C might have legitimately different responses to those qualities.

    The subjectivist model doesn't mean that every response is equally legitimate, since subject D might not even be aware of some of the qualities of work X. But the difference between the two models is that objectivist one claims that all subjects aware of the qualities in the art ought to have the same response, while the subjectivist model says that their responses can legitimately differ.

    After all, the subjectivist must point out, it's probably impossible and certainly rare to find two people who are highly knowledgeable about a field of art and have exactly the same opinions about how good each work in it is and why. When they find that they disagree, how do they establish who is correct? In mathematical questions, they can check each other's proofs; in empirical questions, they can check each other's instruments and data, but what do they check in aesthetic questions? Is there a supreme soul with the perfect answers to which the rest of us ought aspire? Or is human nature legitimately variable from person to person?
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacck View Post
    Of course I read it, and I might even say that it is the best novel I ever read. I think one of the reasons why the subjectivists so vehemently opose any notion of an objective hierarchy in art is that it would automatically imply that there is also a hierarchy in the capacity to appreciate art. I am an elitist, so I believe that only people above certain intelligence level, sensitivity, maturity and philosophical depth, can fully appreciate the Brothers Karamazov. And those who cannot appreciate it? Well.... And likewise those who listen to classical music are more refined in their taste, than those crude folks who listen to rap or any other degenerate art form . This problem of elitism might even be at the heart of this whole discussion.
    I am certainly an elitist with regards to education and sensitivity. After all, some people certainly know more about - say, counterpoint or 19th-century Russian diction - than others. And some people are certainly better at noticing subtle features of those things than others.

    But there is no arguing with taste.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacck View Post
    This problem of elitism might even be at the heart of this whole discussion.
    It absolutely is.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Do you claim that classical music is superior? Because I make no such claim about any music.
    I doubt that it can be objectively rated. I maybe wouldn't rule it out completely but I don't claim it. But you claim that classical music isn't superior. This takes for granted that there is an objective rating. Is your negation of objectivity just an instrument to claim that everything is equal?

    But I think one thing is for sure: If there is an objective rating, it would be the most unlikely thing that things are equal. There is either no objective rating or one thing will be more or less better than another.
    Last edited by Aries; Apr-30-2021 at 15:54.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aries View Post
    I doubt that it can be objectively rated. I maybe wouldn't rule it out completely but I don't claim it. But you claim that classical music isn't superior. This takes for granted that there is an objective rating. Is your negation of objectivity just an instrument to claim that everything is equal?

    But I think one thing is for sure: If there is an objective rating, it would be the most unlikely thing that things are equal. There is either no objective rating or one thing will be more or less better than another.
    A) There is no way of knowing what music is superior. All we can do is poll. Who is to be the polled group?

    B) It is easy as pie to establish one's own individual hierarchy of preferences. We all do it, every day.

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aries View Post
    I doubt that it can be objectively rated. I maybe wouldn't rule it out completely but I don't claim it. But you claim that classical music isn't superior. This takes for granted that there is an objective rating. Is your negation of objectivity just an instrument to claim that everything is equal?

    But I think one thing is for sure: If there is an objective rating, it would be the most unlikely thing that things are equal. There is either no objective rating or one thing will be more or less better than another.
    You are confusing questioning a claim of greatness regarding classical music with making any claim about music in general. I make no claims other than my own subjective opinion, which is egalitarian in how I approach all music as having the potential of being great in my estimation.

    As I said earlier, IMO, music simply is - without any inherent greatness or lack of - it is a blank slate. We each supply a determination as individuals whether we respond positively or not.

    I certainly do not think that the genre of classical music is based on higher aesthetic principles than other kinds of music. I reject the concept of higher art and lower art.

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