Science is built on the foundations of rationality and empiricism. I’ve asked this before: what other methods would you like to introduce towards knowing something? Personal experience is fine for knowing some things, like what I ate yesterday, but not for others because the limitations of human experience and perception.
Knowledge isn't first acquired by a "method," but by direct experience. Methods may be needed later, depending on the sort of knowledge we're talking about. My knowledge that I'm improving a piece of music I'm composing when I strike out my introductory bars and substitute something more in keeping with the overall point of the work doesn't rely on any "method." In the course of composing I'll do the same thing hundreds of times to make something that HAS a recognizable point, as opposed to something random, clumsy and self-negating. Your assertion that an artist is just doing what feels good and that no result has any more real merit or value than any other - after all, someone might prefer chaos to order - is, excuse my French, grotesque, inhuman, and dumb. But apparently that's where "rational" subjectivism lands you. If all values are equal and optional depending on whether we "feel" like holding them, then no art can be superior no matter what values it embodies or expresses.
As I've said, when logic takes you to an absurd conclusion, there's a problem with your premises. The trouble is, you seem not to recognize an absurd conclusion when you reach it.
[The triumph of Wagner over Meyerbeer] has to do with the different potential of their different works to appeal to the different subjectivities that interact with them. Obviously, Wagner’s had much more potential to appeal to many more on a deeper level that’s kept him relevant for as long as he’s been relevant; this is still all within the realm of certain subjectivities being primed to respond to Wagner in that way, which doesn’t negate Wagner’s ability in appealing to those subjectivities (these two factors are co-dependent). Still, Wagner didn’t have the skill to appeal to all human subjectivities, either in his own time or across time. Meyerbeer had even less ability to appeal to as many as Wagner did, though perhaps he had more to appeal to the subjectivities of his own time. To go pragmatic, why must we go farther than this? What is to be gained by doing so and trying to announce that Wagner is somehow objectively better? He’s better in the ability to appeal to more people across time than Meyerbeer; yes, but that is, fundamentally (I’m sorry) a poll. It wouldn’t delegitimize anyone who actually thought Meyerbeer to be better for appealing to their own subjectivity.
Yanking this out of the ivory tower and bringing it down here where people speak normally, Wagner's art quite obviously has more to say about and to human beings than Meyerbeer's does. If you don't think that that (among other things) makes it greater art, and Wagner a greater artist, suit yourself.
You can claim this all you want but you have not demonstrated a difference. All I see are two people claiming truth with no objective means of epistemically supporting themselves. Also, if you don’t care what most religious people claim—and I assume you don’t care because you’d argue they can’t support the claim that their experiences point to any objective truth—then why should anyone care about what you claim as truth?
So you really see no difference in truth value between the claim that Haydn was a better composer than Benjamin Franklin (he wrote string quartets too) and the claim that the world was created in six days and then drowned in a forty-day downpour, from which a pair of every single species on the planet was rescued in a wooden boat?
The problem with the latter belief is that it's obviously nonsensical. It contradicts our experience of the way the world works. Most religious ideas do. It's almost a requirement.
Absolutely romance novels tell us something about the human condition.
That's why I can't wait to read my next one. But it has to have Fabio on the cover.
Moby Dick and Crime & Punishment tell us plenty too, but I’m not sure they tell us more or less than romance novels and Harry Potter; the major difference is that the latter aren’t TRYING to tell us anything,
So that's what distinguishes Nora Roberts from Herman Melville and Feodor Dostoevsky? I guess I'll have to take your word for it. Maybe someone else here has spent enough time with romance novels to show me their unsuspected depths and extraordinary aesthetic qualities.
It seems a rather rational assertion that the art that speaks most profoundly to the most universal aspects of the human condition would also be the art that appeals to the most humans. How else would you even determine such a thing?
My statement was: "Romance novels appeal to more people than Moby Dick and Crime and Punishment. Do they tell us more about the 'human condition' ? What is the human condition, anyway? Whose condition are we talking about? Yours? Mine? Donald Trump's?"
I'd say that the most universal aspects of the human condition are the ones we share with worms, warblers and wombats, plus some minimal level of rationality that may or may not function well. Not a very inspiring collection of traits for art to speak "profoundly" to. It's what I meant when I said, in response to your elevation of the great unwashed, "So the 'human condition' means whatever takes us along the path of least resistance for the least common denominator."
Who cares if more people have read books with Fabio on the cover than ones with a white whale? I don't know those people, and I don't need to know them and what aspects of the "human condition" their soft porn speaks to. I was drawn to classical music as a child because it appealed to the most exciting aspects of my own "human condition" - aspects like a growing aesthetic perception and an active imagination - that the stuff other kids were listening to seemed not to touch. I enjoyed silly popular songs too, like other kids, but I damn well knew the difference. I knew that some aspects of the "human condition" were universal, but as potentialities
in us, and that great art could be both an expression and embodiment of them and a challenge to develop them further.
I still know the difference between Fabio and Moby Dick, and the difference between Meyerbeer and Wagner, and the difference between art that speaks profoundly and perceptively and art that tickles the surface of life or wallows in its refuse like a pig. There's room for art at all levels of depth - we need easy fun as well as spiritual enrichment - but we need to keep our perceptions and our values in order. Spare me your exaltation of the man in the street and his unassailable subjective values and exquisite artistic tastes. People are shooting each other in the street, waving QAnon placards, trying to overturn elections, and gunning for women who think they own their own bodies. Is there art that "speaks profoundly" to those aspects of the "human condition"? Roll over, Beethoven.