[ExI] Objective standards?/was Re: silly 'rules'

Giulio Prisco giulio at gmail.com
Sat Sep 26 07:18:42 UTC 2015

Why do we need "objective standards" at all? What's wrong with
subjective standards? And why can't different people people with
mostly different subjective standards agree to disagree, and
collaborate to make the world a better place according to the
standards and values they both happen to support?

Yes, we can develop scholarly theories of comparatively aesthetics and
all that, and some people like to do that. I prefer to consider my,
and others', standards and values as a given.

On Sat, Sep 26, 2015 at 12:52 AM, William Flynn Wallace
<foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
> my comments at the bottom
> On Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 10:27 PM, Dan <danust2012 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Friday, September 18, 2015 3:11 PM William Flynn Wallace
>> <foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >> But if no one can really say why they're great, the best thing
>> >> to do is either be precise with "many people think they're great"
>> >> or find out if and why they are.)
>> >> Anyway, it's not like the world's going to end anytime sooner because
>> >> of this discussion. :)
>> > I have looked into the philosophy of aesthetics at some (not great)
>> > depth.  I still have not found any valid argument that can contradict
>> > "I don't know much about X but I know what I like."
>> > Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, if you want the cliche'.
>> I'm not sure if the point of esthetics is to contradict that. One should
>> separate between one's reactions to art and standards. And then the issue of
>> whether there are any reliable objective standards, what they are, and how
>> to apply them to a work. (Some might maintain there are none, others that
>> there are but that they're pretty abstract so won't prove helpful in most
>> cases, and still others that each work carries its own esthetics with it.
>> This latter position might be objective in the sense that if one can uncover
>> the esthetics inherent in the work, then one has the means to judge it --
>> whatever that means.)
>> I'm also not sure esthetics will make you change you feelings about a
>> work. It might, but so can other factors. My feelings toward certain movies
>> has changed as I've seen more movies, gotten more experience, grown up (I
>> think:). Haven't you experienced that?
>> Also, have you ever analyzed why you like a given work -- story, film,
>> painting, poem, etc.? Did you come up with some idea -- I like it because
>> it's got X -- only to find there are other things with X that you don't
>> like. For example, imagine you love "The Walking Dead." Let's say you
>> analyze why and, without too much thought, you say, "Well, it's got zombies
>> in it. I'm a sucker for zombies." Then you see "In the Flesh," and you
>> absolutely detest it. Well, both have zombies, so zombies simpliciter can't
>> be why you like it.
>> > I advised my children and grandchildren:  "Never let anyone tell you
>> > that
>> > your tastes are bad or wrong.  You like what you like and that's all it
>> > takes.  Never be ashamed at what you like.  However, do expose yourself
>> > to other opinions and tastes to see if you might like them too."  Nobody
>> > gets to be the arbiter of my tastes except me.
>> Sage advice! Being involved with Objectivists (I mean of the Ayn Rand
>> sort) over the years I've run into too many people who think they must
>> remold their tastes according to some Randian esthetics. They haven't
>> cornered the market on this. Think of how people will sort of bully others
>> on issues of taste. "Oh, you like that band?" "You're reading that trash?"
>> "You enjoyed 'American Beauty'?" (The last is from me, actually.:)
>> > I love gourmet cooking and I also like those little gutbombers they sell
>> > at Krystal.
>> You raise another point: Whether tastes are predictable. I'm clueless
>> here, especially about myself. Well, not completely. But there are plenty of
>> examples where someone says, in all seriousness, if you like X, you'll like
>> Y, and someone else likes X but not Y or vice versa. And, yes, there are
>> cases where someone like both the highbrow and lowbrow (and middlebrow)
>> stuff.
>> And I think one can still say, while not being ashamed or trying to do
>> psychological surgery on one's tastes, "I like this, but I know it's not
>> great" -- along with "I think that's great, but I don't really like it."
>> > (I left out all the obvious things about snobs [does it matter who likes
>> > what?] and elitism, etc.)
>> It depends on the goal. I do agree with what you seem to be hinting at:
>> some people want to lord over others with their tastes. So there's a bit of
>> social status dominance thing going on. On the other hand, one of my
>> roommates in college turned me on to a lot of music partly by shaming me. :)
>> I'm glad he did, but at the same time there might have been a more rational
>> approach to this.
>> Regards,
>> Dan
> I would never apologize for my taste.  I cannot imagine saying 'I know it's
> great but I don't like it.'
> I could say "Others think it's great but I don't", but would only say that
> if asked. I would not try to knock another opinion with that.
> A friend not on this list thinks there is something to like in classical
> music for everyone, and I agree, but cannot agree with him that classical is
> all we need.
> I doubt that anyone's tastes are predictable.
> The rational approach to taste is to teach it in junior and high school -
> visual arts, architecture, music of ALL sorts.  I would put home economics
> back in school, esp. home finance, and it could include some tasting of
> different cuisines.
> There are a few poets I like but mostly I don't like poems, making me a
> lowbrow to many, I suppose.  Doesn't bother me.
> Why do I like a given work?  If it's classical music, then mostly I just
> don't know.  One reason I like fantasy and scifi is that I am practically
> guaranteed a happy ending, or at least not a tragic one.  Hard to find haut
> literary critics who like books with happy endings.  Has to be tragedic to
> qualify for high art.  Hogwash and sheep dip.  I will even turn to the end
> of a book to see if I want to finish it.  Often the quality of the writing
> takes second place to content. I just don't want to read about marriage
> problems, and those books are very fashionable now.  I don't care if
> Shakespeare or his equal wrote it.
> There a case to be made for standard tastes, since we have computers that
> can write pop music that is listenable, and Thomas Kinkade, who had a
> formula for his art works that millions loved.  I even like some formula
> things, like detective Nero Wolfe and Sherlock Holmes. But those carry some
> originality most others don't.
> I am 73 and have been reading some books I read as long as 65 years ago, and
> nothing is the same.  Not surprised.  I also tend to read more slowly than I
> did once and thus notice things I skipped before.
> Well. I have more, but this's probably too much already.
> bill w
>> Sample my Kindle books via:
>> http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Ust/e/B00J6HPX8M/
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