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

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 29 19:36:55 UTC 2015

On Sat, Sep 26, 2015 at 12:18 AM, Giulio Prisco <giulio at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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?

I think the same question can be asked with any endeavor. The usual answer
is to find out what we should attend and how to improve things (in an area
involving making, such as arts and technology). Of course, one might have
to figure out just what those two things mean here. With something like a
rice cooker or a radio telescope, it's fairly easy to see what the goal is
and some ways one might measure how well a given thing serves that goal.
But what is the goal of art? Even if it's multiple, is there something
common to them or is there one out of the multiplicity that's more
significant? (A rice cooker might just look cool or impress one's friends
and family, but it seems less significant than its cooking rice well. If it
fails to do that, it might still look cool sitting there.:)

> 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.

Well, the objective standards would be a way to get beyond seeming
categorical statements like "I like X and that's that." It would allow you
to do self-critique, which shouldn't, in my mind (despite what someone
thinks here) be seen as necessarily bad. If I do math incorrectly -- as
opposed to unconventionally -- then I'd prefer to figure out where and why
rather than say, "This is how I do math. I prefer my way of making mistakes
to all else." :)

Now, of course, none of this really tells us if there are objective
standards in the arts much less what they are. (There are also folks who
might chime in with intersubjective standards or subjective standards that
look a lot like objective ones. On the former, it seems like raising group
tastes to binding rules -- until such time as enough of the group changes.
On the latter, some think of each work as internalizing a standard. In
other words, a Shakespeare play and one by Kanami or Harold Pinter simply
have different esthetics along which they are to be judged. There might, of
course, be overlap, but that need not be so. To me, whatever merit this
has, I would have to ask: Can one discover this internalized standard in
some objective manner? If so, it seems like objective esthetics by other
means, no?:)


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