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I've read The Fountainhead, thanks, which is why I can confidently say that though Roark spends much of the book promoting aesthetic innovation and independence from social convention, he would never dream of advocating attempting to be 'independent' of the objective principles which govern architecture.

I wasn't suggesting that Roark was attempting to be independent of "the objective principles which govern architecture," but that he didn't limit himself to using an established aesthetic "dictionary" of techniques which had been successfully approved and accepted over time by "generic audiences."

What makes him an incredible architect is the fact that his vision is oriented not towards the requirements of social convention but to the requirements of the building site, building materials, the building's purpose, etc.

Those are the factors which made Roark great at the utilitarian aspects of architecture. His aesthetic greatness, on the other hand, came from rejecting the established "dictionary" of expressively proven and accepted styles.

The fact that he understands the difference is what makes him good. Consider one of the earliest scenes from the novel, where Roark is describing the idiocy of, say, the flutings on the columns of the Parthenon. They're idiotic because their original purpose was to hide the joints in wood, and with the Parthenon they were put on a marble structure. A daring and innovative architect at that time might very well be praised for suggesting that they shouldn't have put flutings on the Parthenon; we presume someone like Roark certainly would have suggested this. However, we would not similarly praise someone who suggests removing the flutings from a wooden structure. In that case, they are there for a purpose related to the medium of construction; we would just call that person a bad architect. The difference is the presence of a purpose (hiding the joints in wood), and objective principles governing how that can and cannot be done.

I've pointed out to you in the past that Rand's fictional account of the history of architecture in The Fountainhead is not correct. As I wrote here:

Here's some of what Roark had to say about traditional architectural practices:

"The famous flutings on the famous columns – what are they for? To hide the joints in wood – when columns were made of wood, only these aren't, they're marble. The triglyphs, what are they? Wood. Wooden beams, the way they had to be laid when people began to build wooden shacks. Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way. Then your masters of the Renaissance came along and made copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Now here we are, making copies in steel and concrete of copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Why?...Rules?"

First of all, it's not true that flutings came about to hide "joints" in wood. Flutings were the result of builders recognizing that the aesthetic effects of the lines of rough-cut wooden columns were more rhythmically proportional and pleasing than smooth columns. They felt that that was true regardless of which substance the columns were made.

Secondly, the Greeks didn't make marble "copies" of wooden structures. They created new designs which incorporated many elements and principles of established architecture, usually because the principles were sound regardless of the medium. Contrary to what Roark says later about no two substances being alike, and that what can be done with one must never be done with another, most materials do have very similar structural characteristics, and require similar treatment. In the cases where builders unnecessarily incorporated previous design elements with new materials, such as in the case of stone triglyphs, it wasn't due to following "rules" as Roark claims, but instead was done as a tribute to the profession of architecture and the architects of the past. It was a sign of celebration and respect for the history of mankind's technological development.

So the claim that people's preferences for traditional styles are "largely on the basis of irrational attachments" doesn't reflect reality (granted, it may reflect the mindset of some fictional characters that Rand created, but if those characters are meant to represent how the majority of people think in reality, then they're not accurate).

You continued:

Similarly, if we have a musical composer attempting to, say, create suspense with a certain passage, he is free to disregard everything done before him, but he is not free to disregard the fact that only certain things that he writes will have this effect on the audience.

If a composer disregards everything that had been done before and creates a new style of expression which has its intended effect on me and others, but not on you, why are you considered "the audience" and we are not?

In other words, when you assert that a work of music does not have the intended effect on "the audience," are you claiming that you've gone out and asked its creator what effect he intended his work to have, and that you've interviewed every person in order to discover what effect it had on them, and that you've therefore scientifically established the fact that not one single person was affected as intended? Or are you just making an unsupported assertion based on your own responses (or lack thereof) and claiming that they naturally represent how "the audience" collectively must respond? And when you assert that a work of art does have its intended effect on "the audience," are you claiming that you've asked the creator what effect he intended his work to have, thus verifying that your interpretation is the correct one, and that anyone who has had a different interpretation is wrong?

Your notion of what is "intelligible" (what successfully has its intended effect) appears to be very arbitrary and subjective. It appears to arbitrarily disregard the possibility that others can experience an intended effect where you don't.

If he wishes to accomplish this purpose, he can't set about doing it just any way he wants; he has to have an intuitive grasp of what types of chords and progressions evoke suspense, and what kinds instead invoke sadness, or joy, or what have you. What makes a musician good, creative, independent, etc is the fact that he (intuitively) understands these principles and can use them to create completely original work that has the intended effect on the listener.

In other words, he intuitively bases his creations on how they affect him? If you're trying to say that a creator pays attention to how certain chords and progressions affect him, and that he assumes that other humans will probably be affected in the same way, then I think that we're probably closer to agreement than I had previously thought.

Incidentally, Rand also throws a few examples of this into The Fountainhead to contrast with Roark; remember Lois Cook, the supposedly brilliant writer who disregards not just social convention, but also any and all principles of literary composition, and ends up with passages like "toothbrush in the jaw toothbrush brush brush tooth jaw foam dome in the foam Roman dome come home home in the jaw Roman dome tooth toothbrush toothpick pickpocket socket rocket..."? The reader of TF can easily tell the difference between Roark, who disregards all social convention but pays the most rigorous and exacting attention to the requirements of the building site, the materials, the building's purpose, etc and Cook, who disregards absolutely everything and writes garbage.

Again you're referring to Roark's mastery over the utilitarian aspects of architecture, where this discussion is about his role as an architectural artist.

Yeah, cause those are the only two possible meanings I could have had.

You didn't answer my question. On what objective grounds do you base your unsupported assertion that a work of art must be "intelligible" to a "generic audience"?

...I like jazz, despite your presumptions. My post was not intended to 'diss' jazz or music that I don't like, as you seem determined to interpret it. Part of what makes a jazz musician good is the ability to convey and invoke specific emotions in the listener...

Who is "the listener"? You? People who share your tastes and responses? When you claim that a piece of jazz is not "intelligible" despite the fact that others report that it "conveys and invokes" specific emotions in them, why do they not count as being "the listener"?

J

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Who is "the listener"? You? People who share your tastes and responses? When you claim that a piece of jazz is not "intelligible"

Where did Dante claim that jazz is not intelligible? At best, he only hinted that perhaps *some* jazz musicians do not produce music that is intelligible. He didn't say jazz as a genre is not intelligible. If I'm misunderstanding you, and your argument is that there is no such thing unintelligible music, then I'd respond that feeling something does not mean that what you responded to is intelligible. In any case, it sounds like you're making presumptions about what Dante thinks is good or bad jazz without having the context of a specific jazz song or performance.

Edited by Eiuol
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First thing's first. If you're going to pretend that asking whether I've read The Fountainhead was a genuine question rather than a rhetorical ploy, you probably shouldn't then link to a conversation you and I had last year about The Fountainhead. Just a thought.

In other words, he intuitively bases his creations on how they affect him? If you're trying to say that a creator pays attention to how certain chords and progressions affect him, and that he assumes that other humans will probably be affected in the same way, then I think that we're probably closer to agreement than I had previously thought.

Of course. What more direct, reliable link could he have than his own response? It all comes back to an artist's purpose in creating art. If it is simply to create according to his own vision, he shouldn't consider others at all. If instead he wants it to communicate something, he should make sure that it does so, and the primary reference point for this, too, is himself.

You didn't answer my question. On what objective grounds do you base your unsupported assertion that a work of art must be "intelligible" to a "generic audience"?

When have I said this? My first post in this thread starts off by saying that if the goal is expression and communication rather than purely bringing one's vision to life, then one must consider the needs of communication. "If.... then...." That's the only way 'musts' ever come about.

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And that's the conclusion that I reject. An artist need not go around polling the "generic" folks next door to see how his art affects them.

I didn't mean to suggest a poll, and I'm not sure about our use of the term "generic," here.

At the risk of adding unnecessary (or possibly off-point) complication, may I present an example of the kinds of things that I do in approaching my own art? I'm a would-be writer, and my primary interest is fiction. When I write, I often have in mind certain themes that I'd like to explore, or emotions that I'd like to evoke in my reader, etc.; I'm interested in producing very specific effects. When I've finished an initial draft of my story, I typically ask my wife to read it over, and then I ask her for her impressions.

When I do that, I'm interested in feedback on many levels, including her general interest (was she ever bored?), how she evaluates the characters (are their motivations understandable? are they sympathetic?), and also whether I've accomplished those specific effects I was initially after. For instance, if I had intended a suspenseful tale... did she actually experience suspense?

Depending on her answers, I may probe further. Beyond simply her experience (or lack) of suspense, I'd like to try to determine the source. In/through my art I'm interested in communicating specific emotions or messages or what-have-you, and my wife's responses help me to determine the nature of my success or failure.

My wife is not alone my audience, but I rely on her as being representative (in part) of my audience, which is ultimately something like "a rational human being." Ultimately I set the standards and I am the final arbiter as to what meets those standards. I take my wife's feedback into account, but I wouldn't place her aesthetic judgment above my own; it is my art, after all. However, when she says, "No, I didn't feel suspense. Actually, I felt bored at that part," I really want to understand why she's reacted that way, insofar as I'm able. Her reactions often provoke me to new insights about my material.

It is in this manner that I give thought to my audience, and also in the principles that I'm able to derive from my experiences. Ultimately I hope to have a strong understanding of "what makes rational people, generally, feel suspense." I suspect that this was the method employed by folks like Hitchcock and others who've been judged to be good at creating that sort of thing. Did he ask himself, "What would make me feel suspense?" Unquestionably. But did he also seek to hone his understanding of suspense, in itself, through observation of other peoples' reactions and experiences, and much more so through the reactions and experiences of those whom he considered to constitute "his audience"? Again, I suspect that he did.

I think that what I'm describing is less a poll of people-on-the-street than an endeavor to understand the underlying principles of how and why we experience art in the manner that we do. But do you think I'm approaching this in the wrong way?

Which men would feel grand inside Roark's temple? All men? Should Roark have concerned himself with polling lots of people and then redesigning his temple if he discovered that his design didn't make a certain percentage of men feel what he intended them to feel?

All men? No. And this certainly has nothing to do with percentages or anything like that. The audience I'm concerning myself with is not a question of numbers, but the kind of person who would be receptive to my sort of art.

If we imagine Ellsworth Toohey or Genghis Khan or someone-else-cleverly-selected-by-me-as-inappropriate to step into Roark's temple, I don't think they would experience it as he'd intended. And certainly Roark shouldn't care one whit (in fact, their rejection of his temple would be a type of affirmation that he'd achieved his goals). But if Ayn Rand were to step into Roark's temple and have critical comment, or not experience what Roark assumed a person like that should, then it might be worth Roark's attention and subsequent investigation. He might have to question whether he'd made the correct decisions. (Perhaps he ultimately accounts Rand's dismissal or deviant experience to some fault or quirk of hers, rather than his temple? Perhaps. But that conclusion would be at the end of a process of inquiry, not preclude the inquiry as such.)

I don't remember specifically where it came from, but in replying to this post I seem to recall Ayn Rand talking about "[her] kind of reader." (My search only brings me to the ARI site with the phrase unreferenced.) That phrase seems to speak to what I mean. I don't believe that, either through her fiction or her non-fiction, Ayn Rand was only talking to herself. I don't think she would have cared whether "every man" understood her. But I also think she would have wanted "her kind of reader" to understand, and that she made certain decisions in order to produce that understanding to the best of her ability. To do so, she would have had to consider the effects of her art on "her kind of reader," according to the nature of "her kind of reader," as she understood it.

Why couldn't he instead give lengthy consideration to which arrangements of form would produce in him the effects that he was after?

Absolutely he would. But I don't think that's the whole story, or that it truly conflicts with my meaning. Again I want to try to understand this in terms of my own experiences "as an artist."

I react in certain ways to certain art. Though I'm about as introspective a person as I've ever met, I'm not always aware with precision as to why I have the experiences and reactions that I do. And that's a "difficulty" which seems somehow increased when it comes to producing my own art; while I may be strongly aware of what I mean to communicate -- and while sometimes I think I must have succeeded at its communication -- that isn't always the case (at least judging by the reactions I get from those who I otherwise consider to be rational and "my audience"). I somewhat suspect that parts of my reactions to art may be personal to me -- to the specific context of my life -- and less generalized. For instance, I love the musical Hair, and if pressed I'm willing to defend the reasons why. At the same time, I admit that my very first date ever was to go see a production of Hair, and the experience was a thrilling one for me. I don't know that I can swear that my emotional reactions to Hair, even up to this day, fully come from the musical itself and not at all the personal experiences and context I had while watching it for the first time.

In hypothesizing an "ideal audience," and through real and specific interactions with my wife or various other critical entities, I believe that in part I seek to minimize those aspects of reaction to art which stem from incidents in my specific past, and attune my understanding to a more general "rational human" relationship with those artistic elements.

Perhaps this could all be accomplished through a greater-still level of introspection and a heightened clarity of thought? Perhaps mine is the only human mind I ever need to access for true principles, whether aesthetic or philosophic in general? I grant that this is possible. But I am certain that reading Ayn Rand helped me to understand certain philosophical principles far faster than I would have done without her (if ever I would have done), and where my art is concerned, I truly believe that my wife-as-audience provides me a benefit in assessing whether I'm accomplishing my goals in producing certain reactions or communicating certain aesthetic experiences.

Did the Greek architects then poll a "generic audience" about what they thought of the visual effects?

Not at all, but neither did they discount the nature of their audience -- in this case, those who would observe their temples. Rather, the physical nature of their audience dictated the terms by which they would have to procede in order to produce those specific visual effects.

If you were distributing a book in China, would it matter to you whether the book was published in Chinese or English? What would you feel about the art of a man who created his own language, though no one else would or could ever understand it, then created his masterpiece in that language? If communication is at all an artistic goal, then there are rules that must be obeyed. It isn't just up to the artist to set the terms; he must understand the nature of the audience to whom he desires to speak. If I want to produce suspense in a rational man, I must first determine "what makes a rational man feel suspense." To arrive at that, it might not even be enough for me to ask "what would make me feel suspense?" though I consider myself rational. The crucial point here being that: I would have to take my audience into account.

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Where did Dante claim that jazz is not intelligible? At best, he only hinted that perhaps *some* jazz musicians do not produce music that is intelligible. He didn't say jazz as a genre is not intelligible. If I'm misunderstanding you, and your argument is that there is no such thing unintelligible music, then I'd respond that feeling something does not mean that what you responded to is intelligible. In any case, it sounds like you're making presumptions about what Dante thinks is good or bad jazz without having the context of a specific jazz song or performance.

Would you mind defining "intelligible" for me as it applies to the non-literary arts? I've been taking people here to mean that a work of music is "intelligible" if it evokes in someone (other than its creator) the emotion and/or meaning that the creator intended it to evoke. If you disagree, then what does it mean to you for a work of music to be intelligible as a work of art?

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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First thing's first. If you're going to pretend that asking whether I've read The Fountainhead was a genuine question rather than a rhetorical ploy, you probably shouldn't then link to a conversation you and I had last year about The Fountainhead. Just a thought.

My question wasn't a rhetorical ploy. When I asked if you had read The Fountainhead, I wasn't aware of the fact that you were the person to whom I had addressed my comments last year on Roark's inaccurate account of architecture's history. I only discovered that you were that person after you posted about wooden columns on this thread and I did a quick search to find my previous comments on the subject.

I have a good memory, but I don't remember with whom I've discussed every single topic over the course of months or years. I barely remembered that I had commented here on OO about Roarks false statements rather than on OL or SOLOP.

Also, I don't assume that just because someone is an Objectivist he has read everything that Rand wrote. I've met many Objectivists in online forums who haven't read all of her work, and that includes forum administrators and/or moderators. In fact, several times over the last decade, including here on OO once in a while, I've run into administrators and/or moderators who I strongly suspect haven't read certain works by Rand, because they've said that, on certain topics, Rand believed the opposite of what she stated (for example, here softwareNerd made patently false statements about Rand's views on aesthetics, and I don't think that it should be taken as a rhetorical ploy or an insult if I were to express my suspicions that he may not be very familiar with the contents of The Romantic Manifesto and other sources of Rand's views on aesthetics).

When have I said this? My first post in this thread starts off by saying that if the goal is expression and communication rather than purely bringing one's vision to life, then one must consider the needs of communication. "If.... then...." That's the only way 'musts' ever come about.

In your post # 14 I took you to be saying that communication with a generic audience is inherent in the nature of art, and that artists should be concerned with making sure that their art is therefore intelligible to a generic audience. If that's not what you meant, then okay, sorry for the misunderstanding.

J

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...I think that what I'm describing is less a poll of people-on-the-street than an endeavor to understand the underlying principles of how and why we experience art in the manner that we do. But do you think I'm approaching this in the wrong way?

No, I think that what you said makes a lot of sense, and I have no problem with the idea of getting feedback during artistic creation. My disagreement was with the concept of an artist making sure that his art would communicate with a "generic audience." And I was also questioning what people meant by non-literary art forms being "intelligible" or "unintelligible" to "the listener" and "the audience," and what standards or test they might propose for determining which works of art are intelligible or not, and to whom.

If we imagine Ellsworth Toohey or Genghis Khan or someone-else-cleverly-selected-by-me-as-inappropriate to step into Roark's temple, I don't think they would experience it as he'd intended.

I don't think that we can know in advance how anyone, including a Toohey or a Khan, or even a Rand or an Aristotle, would respond to a work of art. There have been evil people who loved benevolent, inspirational art, and there have been good people who hated certain works of benevolent, inspirational art (take Rand's dismissive comment on Parrish, for example -- that his work was "trash").

I don't remember specifically where it came from, but in replying to this post I seem to recall Ayn Rand talking about "[her] kind of reader." (My search only brings me to the ARI site with the phrase unreferenced.) That phrase seems to speak to what I mean. I don't believe that, either through her fiction or her non-fiction, Ayn Rand was only talking to herself. I don't think she would have cared whether "every man" understood her. But I also think she would have wanted "her kind of reader" to understand, and that she made certain decisions in order to produce that understanding to the best of her ability. To do so, she would have had to consider the effects of her art on "her kind of reader," according to the nature of "her kind of reader," as she understood it.

I think to Rand, "her kind of reader" meant anyone who saw existence exactly as she did. I think she meant that she didn't give a rat's behind what anyone thought -- if you don't get her work, or don't like it, go F yourself; if you do get it and like it, you've got taste, and you're "my kind of person."

J

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I don't think that we can know in advance how anyone, including a Toohey or a Khan, or even a Rand or an Aristotle, would respond to a work of art. There have been evil people who loved benevolent, inspirational art, and there have been good people who hated certain works of benevolent, inspirational art (take Rand's dismissive comment on Parrish, for example -- that his work was "trash").

"benevolent, inspirational art"?

You mean to say that you do in fact think that there is art that is objectively benevolent and inspirational?

Seems that, to be consistent with what I understand your view to be, the best you could say is that there are been evil people who loved certain works of art and good people who have hated certain works of art, possibly even those very same works. But "benevolent, inspirational art"? How so?

Edited by Trebor
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You mean to say that you do in fact think that there is art that is objectively benevolent and inspirational?

Seems that, to be consistent with what I understand your view to be, the best you could say is that there are been evil people who loved certain works of art and good people who have hated certain works of art, possibly even those very same works. But "benevolent, inspirational art"? How so?

Good point.

To answer your questions, no, I didn't mean to say that there is art that is objectively benevolent and inspirational, but was referring to how "generic audiences," and the vast majority of people whom I've seen comment on it, respond to and interpret it. In other words, it appears that almost everyone whom I'm aware of who has seen it views it as benevolent and inspirational.

But you're right that, to be consistent, I shouldn't call the art itself benevolent and inspirational, but should be more precise and say that there have been both evil and good people who have loved the same works of art, and there have been both evil and good people who have hated the same works of art; and, additionally, there have been both evil and good people who have interpreted the same work of art as benevolent and inspirational and have loved it, and there have also been both evil and good people who have interpreted the same work of art as benevolent and inspirational and have hated it.

So, thanks and good catch, John, but the gist of my point remains: We cannot know in advance how any individual will respond to and interpret a work of art. Knowing something about his philosophy, or about what we take to be his "sense of life," won't help us in predicting his tastes in art.

Some of the biggest monsters in mankind's history loved art that they took to be very heroic and representative of strength and productivity. I've seen a lot of Objectivists' tastes over the years, and they quite often like art that is very similar to what the Nazis and commies promoted.

J

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Thank you, Jonathan, for your reply.

I'm trying to understand just where you're coming from, so to speak, so I'll ask a followup question(s).

In your view, there's no objectivity with respect to art, or at least no objective standards of good and bad art or of benevolent or inspirational art, etc. Correct? Various people like (or dislike) certain works of art and find them to be good (or bad) or benevolent (or malevolent) or inspirational (or discouraging or non-inspiring), etc., but their various responses are subjective?

There is such a thing as art, objectively, in your view, as distinct from other man-made creations, and art can be objectively defined and identified. Correct? (I believe that you have said that you basically agree with Miss Rand's definition of art as a recreation of reality in accordance with an artist's metaphysical value judgements.)

I do agree that various people find various works of art to be good, bad, benevolent (or not), inspirational (or not), etc. And, although it's been awhile since I've read the Romantic Manifesto, from memory, Miss Rand does acknowledge that different individuals have different reactions to the same works of art, and she gave examples of differing responses for the same works of art, that those different reactions flowed from the individual's sense of life (or implicit metaphysical value-judgements). (She, however, doesn't say that this makes their responses (or the art) subjective.)

You modified your previous statement, given my previous question(s), to: "[T]here have been both evil and good people who have loved the same works of art, and there have been both evil and good people who have hated the same works of art; and, additionally, there have been both evil and good people who have interpreted the same work of art as benevolent and inspirational and have loved it, and there have also been both evil and good people who have interpreted the same work of art as benevolent and inspirational and have hated it." [my bold]

So now let me ask this:

In your view, are there objective standards for good and evil people? Or, are "good" and "evil" with respect to people (or anything else), as with works of art, simply subjective judgements? And, if that's the case, wouldn't you also have to amend your statement, dropping the "good" and "evil" adjectives (for various people), leaving you to say only that various people have various, subjective, responses to various works of art?

Also, I'm curious as to the works of art that you say that some Objectivists like and which are "similar to what the Nazis and commies promoted." Do you have some examples you can post or link to?

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Thank you, Jonathan, for your reply.

I'm trying to understand just where you're coming from, so to speak, so I'll ask a followup question(s).

In your view, there's no objectivity with respect to art, or at least no objective standards of good and bad art or of benevolent or inspirational art, etc. Correct?

No, that's not correct. My view is that judgments of art include both objective and subjective elements. Generally, the less literature-like an art form is, the less objectivity can be brought to interpreting any meaning that it is intended to have (if it has intended meaning).

Various people like (or dislike) certain works of art and find them to be good (or bad) or benevolent (or malevolent) or inspirational (or discouraging or non-inspiring), etc., but their various responses are subjective?

Their responses are a combination of objectivity and subjectivity, and therefore can not be called purely "objective."

There is such a thing as art, objectively, in your view, as distinct from other man-made creations, and art can be objectively defined and identified. Correct? (I believe that you have said that you basically agree with Miss Rand's definition of art as a recreation of reality in accordance with an artist's metaphysical value judgements.)

Yeah, I suppose that art could be objectively defined. I don't think that Rand quite succeeded, in view of her further elaborations on her definition, and on what art is and is not. Her view of art contains selectively applied biases against subjectivity and in favor of intelligibility based on her personal, subjective preferences.

I do agree that various people find various works of art to be good, bad, benevolent (or not), inspirational (or not), etc. And, although it's been awhile since I've read the Romantic Manifesto, from memory, Miss Rand does acknowledge that different individuals have different reactions to the same works of art, and she gave examples of differing responses for the same works of art, that those different reactions flowed from the individual's sense of life (or implicit metaphysical value-judgements). (She, however, doesn't say that this makes their responses (or the art) subjective.)

I think she did say that it was subjective: She said that sense of life is not a valid criterion of objective aesthetic judgment.

Now, may I ask some questions?

Do you think that Rand was being objective in asserting that Parrish's work was "trash," while showering Capuletti's work with praise?

If you think that judgments of art can be purely objective, will you give an example of an aesthetic judgment of a work of art which includes no subjectivity? I've never seen one. All of the Objectivist reviews of artworks that I've read have had a pretty high degree of subjectivity smuggled in. I've never seen anyone follow Rand's stated method of objective aesthetic judgment, at least not without also being very subjective at the same time. In fact, speaking of Capuletti, I would say that Rand's comments on his work are some of the least objective statements about works of art that I've ever read. She says that his work contains "sheer perfection of workmanship" and such, where his work is objectively measurably quite imperfect. It is amateurish by any objective standard.

You modified your previous statement, given my previous question(s), to: "[T]here have been both evil and goodpeople who have loved the same works of art, and there have been both evil and good people who have hated the same works of art; and, additionally, there have been both evil and good people who have interpreted the same work of art as benevolent and inspirational and have loved it, and there have also been both evil and good people who have interpreted the same work of art as benevolent and inspirational and have hated it." [my bold]

So now let me ask this:

In your view, are there objective standards for good and evil people? Or, are "good" and "evil" with respect to people (or anything else), as with works of art, simply subjective judgements? And, if that's the case, wouldn't you also have to amend your statement, dropping the "good" and "evil" adjectives (for various people), leaving you to say only that various people have various, subjective, responses to various works of art?

Yes, there are objective standards for good and evil.

Also, I'm curious as to the works of art that you say that some Objectivists like and which are "similar to what the Nazis and commies promoted." Do you have some examples you can post or link to?

I have no time at the moment to provide links, so, for the time being, just do an image search for "Nazi art," "Socialist art," "Socialist Realism," etc., and I'm sure you'll see many examples that are quite similar to works that you'll find Objectivists praising.

J

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No, that's not correct. My view is that judgments of art include both objective and subjective elements. Generally, the less literature-like an art form is, the less objectivity can be brought to interpreting any meaning that it is intended to have (if it has intended meaning).

Okay, thank you, Johathan. That helps, even though I'm still a bit confused. I still don't really understand the distinction, as you are using it, between the objective and the subjective elements.

Their responses are a combination of objectivity and subjectivity, and therefore can not be called purely "objective."

Same confusion.

Yeah, I suppose that art could be objectively defined. I don't think that Rand quite succeeded, in view of her further elaborations on her definition, and on what art is and is not. Her view of art contains selectively applied biases against subjectivity and in favor of intelligibility based on her personal, subjective preferences.

This is another instance in which some concretes or examples would help (as to her "selectively applied biases against subjectivity and in favor of intelligibility based on her personal, subjective preferences"), to whatever extent and if and when you care to give them.

I've read some of your challenges to Miss Rand's views on art in other threads, over time, and I do at least think you bring up some legitimate questions or challenges. Still, again, I think what's missing, in part at least, is definitions and an understanding of just what you mean by subjective and objective.

Let me ask: If one person says that he likes vanilla ice cream but does not like chocolate ice cream, yet his friend says that he likes chocolate ice cream but does not like vanilla ice cream, are those what you would call subjective views or preferences or elements?

I myself would call them "personal" preferences, not subjective, but objective (factual) personal preferences.

This reminds me of something that Peikoff said somewhere. He said that people who say that "what's true for me is not (necessarily) true for you" are confusing "of" and "for" - if they are not outright subjectivist. (If I understood him correctly.) (Here's a link to Dr. Peikoff's comments on subjectivists in one of his podcasts - Episode 93 - when asked for advice in arguing with a subjectivist. A subjectivist would dismiss this distinction of "of" and "for" as irrelevant.)

If a person likes vanilla ice cream then that's an objective fact, and it is as true for the person who likes vanilla ice cream as it is for the person who doesn't like vanilla ice cream. On first reading, that perhaps did not make sense, but here's the point. If a person actually does like vanilla ice crean, then it is true that he likes vanilla ice cream. And, it's true for the other person who doesn't like vanilla ice cream - it's just as true FOR him that the other person does like vanilla ice cream even though it's not true OF him. That's the FOR versus OF distinction.

Do you understand and agree with that distinction, and agree that if something is true for a person then it is objectively true even if it is not true of others?

I think she did say that it was subjective: She said that sense of life is not a valid criterion of objective aesthetic judgment.

I'm not referring to RM, but from memory, I think she made the point that it's a person's sense of life, an artist's or a viewer's, which gives rise to their response, not that, as you say, a sense of life is a valid criteria for esthetic judgement. This is the same as saying, I believe, that emotions, although they are objectively based upon the individual's subconsciously held value judgements, are not a means of knowledge. Sense of life is an emotion (or emotional), not a method of objective evaluation, but a reflection of one's subconscious evaluations, whether those are objective or rational or not.

Now, may I ask some questions?

Certainly.

Do you think that Rand was being objective in asserting that Parrish's work was "trash," while showering Capuletti's work with praise?

I was and am baffled by her saying that Parrish's work was "trash" and by her appraisal of Capuletti's work. Do I think that she was being objective? I'm not certain. I do not know her reasoning for those two evaluations. In many ways I share your own view with respect to her appraisals of Parrish and Capuletti. However, I cannot say whether Miss Rand's evaluations are objective or not. Again, I don't know her reasons for her appraisals.

I do remember reading the two things you refer to, that Parrish's work was "trash" and her praise for Capuletti's work. For years, after having read her praise for Capuletti's work, I had not even seen any images of his work, and I wanted to see them myself to see just what it was she found to be so good about them. When I did finally see some of them, I was baffled by her praise for them, at least many of those I saw photos of. I still am.

However, Miss Rand (as do some other people) has an account of credibility for me, so to speak. Not to say that I just accept whatever she says as true, but that I have found that she typically had very good reasons for what she had to say. I approach what she says in the same way that I approach other artists, say, who I like. If I admire their work, I'm interested and eager to hear what they have to say. What they say doesn't always make sense, even if only at first, but given that I think that they are worth considering I'm at least interesting in understanding their reasons for their claims. If in time I can find and grasp their reasoning and come to agree with them, great, I've learned. Else, whatever point they may have made stays in the background for me as something to be on the lookout for a better understanding of.

This is similar to something that Andrew Loomis, for example, said in his book Fun with a Pencil. He has a page with several (four) childlike, stick-figurish type drawings, and he praises the first one, less so the next two, and the last one he thought was a lost cause. Why, I would "ask." I did not dismiss him even though I did not (at the time) understand why he thought what he did. I realized that I did not understand his reasoning, but I admired him enough to have some confidence that if I can find his reasoning, then I'll understand why he said what he said and very likely then agree with him.

So, although I remain baffled by Miss Rand's assessments of Parrish's and Capuletti's works, I'm open to her arguments, or arguments others might present in support of her judgements.

If you think that judgments of art can be purely objective, will you give an example of an aesthetic judgment of a work of art which includes no subjectivity? I've never seen one. All of the Objectivist reviews of artworks that I've read have had a pretty high degree of subjectivity smuggled in. I've never seen anyone follow Rand's stated method of objective aesthetic judgment, at least not without also being very subjective at the same time. In fact, speaking of Capuletti, I would say that Rand's comments on his work are some of the least objective statements about works of art that I've ever read. She says that his work contains "sheer perfection of workmanship" and such, where his work is objectively measurably quite imperfect. It is amateurish by any objective standard.

If by subjectivity you mean, basically, arbitrary, then I do think that judgements of art can, in principle, be purely objective. If a person starts introducing the arbitrary (baseless assertions as to the meaning of some work of art), then it becomes subjective.

I am not certain that I could do a very good job of presenting purely objective judgements of some art. Some judgements would be easy, some not. But in principle I do think it's possible to make a purely objective judgement of art.

Can you point me to where I can find Miss Rand's "stated method of objective aesthetic judgement? (Why do you spell it "aesthetic" rather than "esthetic"? Are you in Europe? Just curious, as I understand it's common for Europeans to spell it that way?) And, can you point me to some of those reviews of artwork(s) by Objectivists which "had a pretty high degree of subjectivity smuggled in"? Both would be helpful.

Yes, there are objective standards for good and evil.

I had more or less assumed otherwise, in error, so I'm glad to clear that up.

I have no time at the moment to provide links, so, for the time being, just do an image search for "Nazi art," "Socialist art," "Socialist Realism," etc., and I'm sure you'll see many examples that are quite similar to works that you'll find Objectivists praising.

Thanks for the suggested searches. I've done the searches and looked at several of the respective images. Still, this is another case where some examples from you as well as examples of the works that some Objectivists have praised, which you think are similar, would be helpful, just so that I know exactly, or more closely, just what you're saying.

I'm interested in this issue, but like you I have limited time to give it or online discussions. Over time however perhaps we can explore this more and both gain a better understanding of the issue(s).

Edited by Trebor
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I've read some of your challenges to Miss Rand's views on art in other threads, over time, and I do at least think you bring up some legitimate questions or challenges. Still, again, I think what's missing, in part at least, is definitions and an understanding of just what you mean by subjective and objective.

"Objective" means independent of individual thought; perceptible by all observers; expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.

"Subjective" means relating to experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states; modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background.

Let me ask: If one person says that he likes vanilla ice cream but does not like chocolate ice cream, yet his friend says that he likes chocolate ice cream but does not like vanilla ice cream, are those what you would call subjective views or preferences or elements?

I myself would call them "personal" preferences, not subjective, but objective (factual) personal preferences.

Then why not just claim that there's no such thing as subjectivity? Using your method, one could claim that it is an objective fact that one has subjective interpretations and preferences, and therefore subjective interpretations and preferences are objective.

This reminds me of something that Peikoff said somewhere. He said that people who say that "what's true for me is not (necessarily) true for you" are confusing "of" and "for" - if they are not outright subjectivist. (If I understood him correctly.) (Here's a link to Dr. Peikoff'scomments on subjectivists in one of his podcasts - Episode 93 - when asked for advice in arguing with a subjectivist. A subjectivist would dismiss this distinction of "of" and "for" as irrelevant.)

If a person likes vanilla ice cream then that's an objective fact, and it is as true for the person who likes vanilla ice cream as it is for the person who doesn't like vanilla ice cream. On first reading, that perhaps did not make sense, but here's the point. If a person actually does like vanilla ice crean, then it is true that he likes vanilla ice cream. And, it's true for the other person who doesn't like vanilla ice cream - it's just as true FOR him that the other person does like vanilla ice cream even though it's not true OF him. That's the FOR versus OF distinction.

I like certain abstract paintings. It is an objective fact that I like them. So, using your and Peifoff's method, my interpretations of abstract paintings are therefore objective? I also like certain works of music, and therefore my tastes in music are objective? If so, why did Rand say that until a conceptual vocabulary for music is discovered, we must treat our tastes as a subjective matter? If she actually believed what you and Peikoff believe about "personal objective tastes," why didn't she say that music must be treated as "personal objective" matter?

The Objectivist view of "objectivity" is that it is the act of consciously choosing to adhere to reality via logic and reason, where subjectivity is a subconscious, automatic and/or emotional response in which a person's judgment is not entirely inherent in the object being considered, but which has aspects which are contributed by his own consciousness. An example of the Objectivist notion of subjectivity can be found in Rand's comment on why tastes in music must be treated as a subjective matter. She said, "In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others -- and, therefore, cannot prove -- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness" (RM, p.55).

The same is true of preferring vanilla over chocolate -- one's preference is not true of all men; it is not an independent fact of reality that vanilla is better than chocolate; one cannot prove the superiority of vanilla over chocolate, and one can't prove which aspects of tasting vanilla or chocolate are inherent in the flavor and which are contributed by his own consciousness. Therefore preferring vanilla over chocolate is a subjective preference by Rand's criteria (and I'm going with Rand rather than Peikoff when it comes to which ideas actually represent Objectivism).

I was and am baffled by her saying that Parrish's work was "trash" and by her appraisal of Capuletti's work. Do I think that she was being objective? I'm not certain. I do not know her reasoning for those two evaluations. In many ways I share your own view with respect to her appraisals of Parrish and Capuletti. However, I cannot say whether Miss Rand's evaluations are objective or not. Again, I don't know her reasons for her appraisals.

Are her reasons relevant? Rand's view of objectivity was that reality exists independent of anyone's consciousness, and that in an given situation, only one answer is true. So, the only relevant question is, is Parrish's work trash, and is Capuletti's sheer perfection of workmanship? Are those statements true or not?

If Rand had said that 2+2=17, would you be telling me that you'd need to hear her reasoning before judging whether or not her statement was objective? Would you tell me that you're baffled, but you admire Rand so much that you're willing to postpone your judgments of her mathematical assertion until after you got to hear her reasoning? After all, she was so brilliant that you believe that she might have actually come up with a valid reason to support the view that 2+2=17?

So, although I remain baffled by Miss Rand's assessments of Parrish's and Capuletti's works, I'm open to her arguments, or arguments others might present in support of her judgements.

She gave no arguments.

Objectively, is Parrish's work crap or is it not? Is Capuletti's work sheer perfection of workmanship or is it not?

If by subjectivity you mean, basically, arbitrary, then I do think that judgements of art can, in principle, be purely objective. If a person starts introducing the arbitrary (baseless assertions as to the meaning of some work of art), then it becomes subjective.

No, by "subjective" I do not mean arbitrary. I mean not expressing ideas or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices or interpretations.

I am not certain that I could do a very good job of presenting purely objective judgements of some art. Some judgements would be easy, some not. But in principle I do think it's possible to make a purely objective judgement of art.

I'm not necessarily asking for you to write an original objective review of a work of art. I was more interested in seeing if you, or anyone else here, could provide any example of a purely objective judgment of a work of art, written by anyone. I don't care who wrote the objective judgment, I'd just like to see one that contains no subjectivity.

Can you point me to where I can find Miss Rand's "stated method of objective aesthetic judgement?

http://aynrandlexico...c_judgment.html

Why do you spell it "aesthetic" rather than "esthetic"?

Because that's the way that it's been spelled throughout the history of philosophy.

J

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Then why not just claim that there's no such thing as subjectivity?

Because there is such a thing as subjectivity.

However, given your definitions:

"Objective" means independent of individual thought; perceptible by all observers; expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.

"Subjective" means relating to experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states; modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background.

Although I had hoped that you would make your meanings clear, by providing definitions, your definitions, as you have stated them, have left me confused as to just what you mean by "objective" and "subjective." Therefore it is difficult, if not impossible, still, for me to understand you when you use those terms.

Given your definitions, I have to ask whether you think that there is any such thing as objective thought, knowledge or interpretation at all (all of which are actions of or the product of consciousness), if "objective," in your view, by your definition, is "independent of individual thought," "perceptible by all observers," or "dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations"?

There is no knowledge (conscious or mental grasp of reality, perceptually or conceptually) or interpretation (conscious or mental grasp of the meaning of something) that is "independent of individual thought" or "perceptible by all other observers," yet according to you, by your definition, for knowledge to be objective it must be "independent of individual thought" and "perceptible by all other observers."

The primary concern, with respect to distinguishing the objective from the subjective, is to distinguish the true from the false. Existence exists, reality is what it is, and the task of consciousness is to identify what exists, for our efforts to identify reality to correspond to existence, an issue that only arises on the conceptual level, our non-automatic faculty of consciousness, the level in which we can be right or wrong in our efforts to identify the facts.

I assume that it is your view that it is at least possible for someone to express or deal with "facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations," but given your definitions I am not certain of even that. If "objective" means "independent of individual thought" and/or "perceptible by all observers," this aspect of your definition of "objective" seems irrelevant. Even if I am capable of dealing with "facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations," my dealing with facts or conditions is not "independent of individual thought" (it's my consciousness that is dealing with the facts or conditions, and my consciousness is personal) and my dealing with "facts or conditions" is not "perceptible by all observers."

If there is no possibility of objective thought, knowledge or interpretation, in your own view, given your definition, then of course it is no stretch for you to say that you have never seen any "fully objective" interpretations of art by Objectivists as a "fully objective" or even an "objective" interpretation of art (or of anything else) is not possible.

If the objective is impossible, in your view, then I assume that all thought, knowledge and interpretation, etc. (all actions of consciousness, which is an individual capacity) is "subjective," in your view. But such a view is a self-contradictory.

Your definition of "subjective" doesn't help to clarify the confusion unless I am correct in assuming that you think that there is no possibility of objective knowledge. You define "subjective" as "relating to experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states; modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background." All experience or knowledge is "conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states," "modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background."

So, again, if, in your view, "objective" knowledge is not possible, then it is no stretch for you to say that you have never seen any "fully objective" interpretations of art by Objectivists. But then, of course, no "fully objective" or even "objective" interpretation is possible as an "objective" fact, which is the self-contradiction.

Anyway, perhaps you see why I find your definitions confusing. Perhaps you do think that objective knowledge is possible, but again, from your definitions (as you provided), I am not certain.

I like certain abstract paintings. It is an objective fact that I like them. So, using your and Peifoff's method, my interpretations of abstract paintings are therefore objective?

Perhaps you ask this due to your definitions (of "objective" and "subjective"), but no, if it is an objective fact (true) that you like certain abstract paintings, then it is an objective fact that you do indeed like them. However, the objective fact that you (or anyone else) like (or dislikes) them is not the standard of objective interpretation, of esthetic judgement.

I also like certain works of music, and therefore my tastes in music are objective?

Again, if you like certain works of music, then it is an objective fact that you like them - it is true that you like them, and (with respect to the distinction between FOR and OF which I mentioned) the fact that you like them is true FOR everyone else. If anyone else states knowingly that you like the works that you like, then they have stated a truth, they have identified an objective fact of reality, that you like certain works of music. Although, however, your tastes in music are an objective fact, neither your tastes nor anyone else's taste are an "objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgement...," as Miss Rand put it. "Art and Cognition," The Romantic Manifesto, 55

Using your method, one could claim that it is an objective fact that one has subjective interpretations and preferences, and therefore subjective interpretations and preferences are objective.

If it is an objective fact that someone has a subjective (arbitrary) interpretation or preference, then it is an objective fact that they have a subjective interpretation or preference, yes. However, it makes no sense to then jump to the conclusion that their subjective interpretation or preference is an objective interpretation or preference. Two different issues.

One could say, for example and perhaps clarifying my point, that, in such a case, it is an objective fact that the person holds a subjective interpretation or preference, but the fact that they hold a subjective interpretation or preference means that their (subjective) interpretation or preference is not objective. Or, in other words, it is a fact, objectively, that they hold a non-objective, subjective, interpretation or preference.

The same is true of preferring vanilla over chocolate -- one's preference is not true of all men; it is not an independent fact of reality that vanilla is better than chocolate; one cannot prove the superiority of vanilla over chocolate, and one can't prove which aspects of tasting vanilla or chocolate are inherent in the flavor and which are contributed by his own consciousness. Therefore preferring vanilla over chocolate is a subjective preference by Rand's criteria (and I'm going with Rand rather than Peikoff when it comes to which ideas actually represent Objectivism).
[my bold]

True, one's preference for vanilla over chocolate is not true of OF all men (some prefer chocolate over vanilla), but it is true FOR all men (that one's preference for vanilla over chocolate is a fact). One's preference is a fact of reality, an objective fact of reality. The true (truth) is a correct identification of reality, an identification that corresponds to reality. Anyone who identifies the fact that one's preference is for vanilla over chocolate, if one's preference is for vanilla over chocolate, has identified the fact correctly. They have identified an objective fact of reality. Their identification is objective; it is true.

It seems that (consistent with your own definitions of "objective" and "subjective"), using a preference for vanilla (ice cream) over chocolate (ice cream) as a paradigm, you have asserted that all preferences are "subjective" because, you say, it is not possible to know or prove what aspect of our experiences of anything are contributed by the thing we experience and what aspects of our experiences are contributed by our consciousness. But what exactly are you asking for in insisting on knowing what aspect of our experiences of anything are contributed by that which we experience and what aspects of our experiences are contributed by our consciousness in order to make an "objective" determination of a preference?

If, as it seems, you do hold that all preferences are "subjective," then that is consistent with your definition of "objective" as "independent of individual thought; perceptible by all observers; expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations." "Objective" preferences are not possible by your definition. As well, incorrectly, you state that a preference for vanilla over chocolate is subjective by Miss Rand's criteria because of what she said about music (below).

If someone likes something (say, they like vanilla ice cream and prefer it over chocolate ice cream, or they like (some) abstract painting(s) versus other abstract painting(s) or (some) representational painting(s) versus other representational painting(s), etc.), then it is a simple, objective fact that they do indeed like that which they like. Would you claim that they do not like what they in fact like?

But what someone likes (or not) is not sufficient to determine if what they like is "better" (or "worse"). "Better" (or "worse") requires a standard beyond or different from "like." "Like" is not a valid standard for "better" (nor for (fully) objective interpretations in art). What a person likes (or prefers) may or may not be "better," but regardless it is an (fully) objective fact that they do like it.

As best I can tell, you are throwing out the distinction between pleasure and pain on the perceptual level (feelings of pleasure or pain) and on the conceptual level (pleasurable or painful emotions). Assuming that the reason that someone prefers vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream is the taste experience of vanilla over chocolate (which seems obvious given that there are no other variables between two ice creams but their flavors, in general), then the pleasure they get from the taste of vanilla as opposed to the taste of chocolate (or the taste of sewage or anything else they dislike for that matter) is sufficient cause in itself for their preference. "Yum" is cause enough, objectively, to identify their preference in taste. "Yum! I like this." There is no getting beneath that, and there is no need to do so, not with respect to their identifying their preference or like on the perceptual level. There's no need to understand it beyond that in order to objectively identify their preference because their evaluation is on the basis of direct perception of pleasure. Perhaps they may one day be able to analyze their experience in terms of what aspect is contributed by the vanilla ice cream and what aspect is contributed by their perceptual capacity (consciousness), but it is not needed in order to conclude that they objectively prefers vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream. It is a self-evident identification; the evidence for the identification is directly available to them in tasting (perceiving) the vanilla ice cream (and the chocolate ice cream, etc.).

However not every assessment of preferences (values) is made on the basis of perceptual level experience of pleasure or pain. The whole realm of conceptual cognition requires more than the perceptual self-evident. On the conceptual level we are not automatically correct in our efforts to identify reality, and, because we are fallible on the conceptual level, all conceptual products require validation, some means of confirming that they are consistent with reality.

The Objectivist view of "objectivity" is that it is the act of consciously choosing to adhere to reality via logic and reason...

Here is Miss Rand's own statement on "Objectivity" (Lexicon):

"Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver’s (man’s) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). This means that although reality is immutable and, in any given context, only one answer is true, the truth is not automatically available to a human consciousness and can be obtained only by a certain mental process which is required of every man who seeks knowledge—that there is no substitute for this process, no escape from the responsibility for it, no shortcuts, no special revelations to privileged observers—and that there can be no such thing as a final “authority” in matters pertaining to human knowledge. Metaphysically, the only authority is reality; epistemologically—one’s own mind. The first is the ultimate arbiter of the second." "Who Is the Final Authority in Ethics?" The Objectivist Newsletter, Feb. 1965, 7

...where subjectivity is a subconscious, automatic and/or emotional response in which a person's judgment is not entirely inherent in the object being considered, but which has aspects which are contributed by his own consciousness. An example of the Objectivist notion of subjectivity can be found in Rand's comment on why tastes in music must be treated as a subjective matter. She said, "In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others -- and, therefore, cannot prove -- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness" (RM, p.55).
[bold mine]

Miss Rand did not state that tastes in music must be treated as a subjective matter metaphysically, but epistemologically, and only until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined with respect to music. Your statement, as to the Objectivist view on "subjectivity," that it is: "subconscious, automatic and/or emotional response in which a person's judgment is not entirely inherent in the object being considered, but which has aspects which are contributed by his own consciousness," is not accurate.

A subjective claim is an arbitrary claim. Although one may hold subjective views subconsciously, being subconscious is not a condition of "subjectivity." I do not know what you mean by an "automatic and/or emotional response in which a person's judgment is not entirely inherent in the object being considered." No judgements about anything are inherent in the object being considered (judged). Judgements are actions of consciousness in relation to objects being considered; judgements are "in one's mind" and in relation to the objects being judged. (As to the Objectivist view on "Subjectivity," see below.)

Music (Lexicon):

"The formulation of a common vocabulary of music . . . would require: a translation of the musical experience, the inner experience, into conceptual terms; an explanation of why certain sounds strike us a certain way; a definition of the axioms of musical perception, from which the appropriate esthetic principles could be derived, which would serve as a base for the objective validation of esthetic judgments . . . .

["In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others -- and, therefore, cannot prove -- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness"][The quote you provided previously, in sequence.]

Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music..." "Art and Cognition," The Romantic Manifesto, 55

And:

"Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined" is not Miss Rand's confession that it is on principle impossible to discover and define the required conceptual vocabulary.

...

"Until it is brought to the stage of conceptualization, we have to treat musical tastes or preferences as a subjective matter--not in the metaphysical sense, but in the epistemological sense; i.e., not in the sense that these preferences are, in fact, causeless and arbitrary, but in the sense that we do not know their causes. No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it's every man for himself--and only for himself." [From which it seems that you have concluded that all of the arts are a matter of similar subjectivity, epistemological if not metaphysical.)" "Art and Cognition," The Romantic Manifesto, 55-56

As to the Objectivist view on "Subjectivity":

"Subjectivism" (Lexicon):

In Metaphysics and Epistemology

Subjectivism is the belief that reality is not a firm absolute, but a fluid, plastic, indeterminate realm which can be altered, in whole or in part, by the consciousness of the perceiver—i.e., by his feelings, wishes or whims. It is the doctrine which holds that man—an entity of a specific nature, dealing with a universe of a specific nature—can, somehow, live, act and achieve his goals apart from and/or in contradiction to the facts of reality, i.e., apart from and/or in contradiction to his own nature and the nature of the universe. (This is the “mixed,” moderate or middle-of-the-road version of subjectivism. Pure or “extreme” subjectivism does not recognize the concept of identity, i.e., the fact that man or the universe or anything possesses a specific nature.) "Who Is the Final Authority in Ethics?" The Objectivist Newsletter, Feb. 1965, 7

The subjective means the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional. "Art and Moral Treason," The Romantic Manifesto, 150

Are her reasons [for calling Parrish's word "trash" and that Capuletti's work showed "sheer perfection of workmanship] relevant? Rand's view of objectivity was that reality exists independent of anyone's consciousness, and that in an given situation, only one answer is true. So, the only relevant question is, is Parrish's work trash, and is Capuletti's sheer perfection of workmanship? Are those statements true or not?

Of course her reasons are relevant. Without any supporting reasons from Miss Rand, I cannot say whether or not her statements are true. Without viewing the four stick figure-ish drawings I mentioned previously, in the Loomis book, and without reading his comments about them, can you tell me, are his assessments or interpretations of them true or not?

If Rand had said that 2+2=17, would you be telling me that you'd need to hear her reasoning before judging whether or not her statement was objective? Would you tell me that you're baffled, but you admire Rand so much that you're willing to postpone your judgments of her mathematical assertion until after you got to hear her reasoning? After all, she was so brilliant that you believe that she might have actually come up with a valid reason to support the view that 2+2=17?

Are you just trying to be insulting?

I have all the needed facts to be able to grasp that 2+2=17 is wrong. I cannot, again, without knowledge of Miss Rand's reasons (you say that she gave no arguments in support) for her statements, form any judgement as to her statements with respect to Parrish's work or Capuletti's work.

I have already told you that I do not agree (or disagree) with her - I said that I am baffled by her statements. Does "baffled" imply agreement or disagreement to you?

It is not possible for me to agree or disagree with her without knowing why (the reason(s)) she said what she said. And, given the ongoing confusion as to what you mean by "objective" and "subjective," I think that it is inadvisable to get into a discussion with you about the meaning of "trash" or "sheer perfection of workmanship," for now.

Edit: Clarity

Edited by Trebor
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I wrote:

"Then why not just claim that there's no such thing as subjectivity? Using your method, one could claim that it is an objective fact that one has subjective interpretations and preferences, and therefore subjective interpretations and preferences are objective."

You replied:

Because there is such a thing as subjectivity.

I think you've missed my point.

I had stated that my view is that judgments of art include both objective and subjective elements, and that, generally, the less literature-like an art form is, the less objectivity can be brought to interpreting any meaning that it is intended to have (if it has intended meaning).

In response, you brought up your (and Peikoff's) idea of "objective (factual) personal preferences." In the context of our discussion, I took you to be claiming that "personal preferences" in judging art are objective rather than subjective. You seemed to be saying that because it is a fact that someone likes certain things, then that fact is objective, and therefore the judgment itself is also objective. My point was that, no, that does not logically follow: someone's subjective judgments do not become objective using your (and Peikoff's) method. Using your method, there would be no such thing as subjectivity, because it is an objective fact that people have subjective preferences and therefore their subjective preferences would be objective.

Now, if your point was not to claim that someone's personal tastes and preferences are objective, what was the relevance to this discussion of your bringing up the idea that it is an "objective fact that a person likes vanilla ice cream"? If you were you not trying to claim that the objective fact that a person likes vanilla makes his judgment of/preference for vanilla objective, what was your point and how was it relevant to the topic?

Although I had hoped that you would make your meanings clear, by providing definitions, your definitions, as you have stated them, have left me confused as to just what you mean by "objective" and "subjective." Therefore it is difficult, if not impossible, still, for me to understand you when you use those terms.

I was using standard dictionary definitions, and I think that they're consistent with Rand's views on the subject.

Given your definitions, I have to ask whether you think that there is any such thing as objective thought, knowledge or interpretation at all (all of which are actions of or the product of consciousness), if "objective," in your view, by your definition, is "independent of individual thought," "perceptible by all observers," or "dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations"?

There is no knowledge (conscious or mental grasp of reality, perceptually or conceptually) or interpretation (conscious or mental grasp of the meaning of something) that is "independent of individual thought" or "perceptible by all other observers," yet according to you, by your definition, for knowledge to be objective it must be "independent of individual thought" and "perceptible by all other observers."

By "independent of individual thought," "perceptible by all observers," and "dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations," I (and lexicographers) mean that same thing that Rand did in saying that objectivity is "the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness."

The primary concern, with respect to distinguishing the objective from the subjective, is to distinguish the true from the false.

I don't think that that is an accurate view of objectivity. One can be objective -- one can use one's consciousness to "acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic)" -- and be wrong. One can believe, for example, that the Earth is flat by observing everything he sees, and by using reason and logic. If he doesn't have access to certain knowledge, and if he doesn't know that he lacks that knowledge, he may use reason and logic to the best of his ability and ultimately be wrong. Objectivity doesn't guaranty a true result.

Existence exists, reality is what it is, and the task of consciousness is to identify what exists, for our efforts to identify reality to correspond to existence, an issue that only arises on the conceptual level, our non-automatic faculty of consciousness, the level in which we can be right or wrong in our efforts to identify the facts.

If reality is what it is, then use your independent consciousness to identify what exists: In reality, is Maxfield Parrish's work "trash"? Is José Capuletti's "sheer perfection of workmanship"? Are those statements true or false? If your theory is, as you say, that distinguishing between the objective and the subjective is to distinguish the true from the false, then apply that theory to Parrish's and Capuletti's work.

Of course her reasons are relevant. Without any supporting reasons from Miss Rand, I cannot say whether or not her statements are true.

You can't independently identify whether or not a statement is true? Isn't the idea of Objectivism to think for oneself?

Since it seems to be difficult for you to admit that Rand was wrong and/or subjective in a given isolated instance, let's temporarily remove Rand from the equation. So, for the time being, I'm not asking you to judge Rand, but only to objectively think for yourself and judge artists' works. As I asked in my last post -- a question which you did not answer -- "Objectively, is Parrish's work crap or is it not? Is Capuletti's work sheer perfection of workmanship or is it not?" Is it a "fact of reality" "independent of any perceiver's consciousness" that Parrish's work is trash and that Capuletti's is a tour de force of virtuoso technique and sheer perfection of workmanship?

Without viewing the four stick figure-ish drawings I mentioned previously, in the Loomis book, and without reading his comments about them, can you tell me, are his assessments or interpretations of them true or not?

Why are you introducing the idea of not viewing artworks which are to be judged? Of course I couldn't tell you anything about a person's judgments of works of art if I haven't seen them. What does that have to do with anything? I'm not asking you to judge Parrish's and Capuletti's work without viewing it. I'm asking you to look at it and to objectively identify if it is, respectively, trash and sheer perfection.

It seems that (consistent with your own definitions of "objective" and "subjective"), using a preference for vanilla (ice cream) over chocolate (ice cream) as a paradigm, you have asserted that all preferences are "subjective" because, you say, it is not possible to know or prove what aspect of our experiences of anything are contributed by the thing we experience and what aspects of our experiences are contributed by our consciousness.

No, I have not asserted that all preferences are subjective, nor have I said that it is not possible to know or prove which aspects of our experiences of anything are inherent in the thing and which are contributed by our consciousnesses. Quite the contrary. Just like Rand, I have said only that certain judgments are subjective, and that some experiences involve aspects contributed by our own consciousness which we cannot prove to others.

Here is Miss Rand's own statement on "Objectivity" (Lexicon):

"Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver’s (man’s) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic).

I fully understand Rand's concept of "objectivity." As I said in my last post:

The Objectivist view of "objectivity" is that it is the act of consciously choosing to adhere to reality via logic and reason.

Miss Rand did not state that tastes in music must be treated as a subjective matter metaphysically, but epistemologically, and only until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined with respect to music.

Then, in the name of reason and logical consistency, other currently subjective judgments should be given the same leeway: Tastes in abstract art must only temporarily be treated as an epistemologically subjective matter until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined with respect to abstract art; tastes in performance and conceptual art must only temporarily be treated as an epistemologically subjective matter until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined with respect to those art forms; etc. Therefore, those art forms, just like music, are valid art forms, and are just as someday-objective as Rand asserted that music will someday be. QED.

Your statement, as to the Objectivist view on "subjectivity," that it is: "subconscious, automatic and/or emotional response in which a person's judgment is not entirely inherent in the object being considered, but which has aspects which are contributed by his own consciousness," is not accurate.

My statement is an accurate summation of the Objectivist view of subjectivity.

I think your mistake is that you've conflated the concept of "subjective" with the concept of "subjectivism." In your last post, you quoted Rand on "subjectivism," which is like equating "objective" with "Objectivism": One is a cognitive state where the other is a system of belief or ideology. To have a subjective taste or opinion now and then is not to adopt a system of subjectivism. To say that I have a subjective preference for major or minor chords, or for subtle, pastel tones or for bright, saturated ones, or for vanilla or chocolate, is not to say that all of my preferences in every aspect of life are subjective.

Are you just trying to be insulting?

Why do you think that it's insulting for me to ask you to think for yourself and to have the intellectual independence to say that Rand was wrong, or that her opinion on a single subject was subjective?

I have all the needed facts to be able to grasp that 2+2=17 is wrong.

Don't you also have all of the facts to objectively determine if any given artwork is good or bad, irrespective of Rand's opinions?

I cannot, again, without knowledge of Miss Rand's reasons (you say that she gave no arguments in support) for her statements, form any judgement as to her statements with respect to Parrish's work or Capuletti's work.

So, apparently you're saying that there could be some valid reasons which would objectively make Parrish's work trash and Capuletti's perfection?

I have already told you that I do not agree (or disagree) with her - I said that I am baffled by her statements. Does "baffled" imply agreement or disagreement to you?

"Baffled" implies disagreement with her. It suggests that your own judgment conflicts with hers. You appear to disagree with Rand that Parrish's work is trash and that Capuletti's is perfection. The point is, if there is only one truth, what is the truth? Is your position that Rand was such an expert and connoisseur of the visual arts, and that she has such a high "account of credibility" with you, that she may have known something about visual art that you and the rest of the world don't? Do you believe that she actually may have had knowledge of what constitutes "virtuoso technique" in painting, and so much so that you're willing to doubt your own experienced eyes and doubt your own informed judgments?

That, to me, doesn't sound like objectivity. It sounds like the avoidance of using reason, logic and judging for oneself. It sounds like the lack of confidence to display intellectual independence from Rand, and to disagree with her in an area where she had much less knowledge and experience than you do.

J

[edited to add:] I just wanted to stress how much I disagree with the idea of giving someone an "account of credibility." I think the idea is quite anti-Objectivist. Someone's brilliance in one area of thought doesn't translate to, or earn them any points in, another area of thought. The merit of any position on any topic is the only thing that should be considered.

Edited by Jonathan13
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Why are you introducing the idea of not viewing artworks which are to be judged? Of course I couldn't tell you anything about a person's judgments of works of art if I haven't seen them. What does that have to do with anything? I'm not asking you to judge Parrish's and Capuletti's work without viewing it. I'm asking you to look at it and to objectively identify if it is, respectively, trash and sheer perfection.

I'll have to wait another time to respond to other things you have said, but for now:

"Why are you introducing the idea of not viewing artworks which are to be judged?"

Because I do not know which works you are referring to (or that Miss Rand was referring to) with respect to Parrish and Capuletti, all of their respective works or some of them. None have been pointed out by you. And since you have dismissed Miss Rand as irrelevant (I should not want to know her reasoning for her assessments, but should be able to judge for myself whether or not she was correct) and have made the question/issue your own and have asked for (demanded) answers from me, repeatedly, I would first have to know which works you are referring to and what you mean by the various terms which you are asking me to use in forming a judgement: "trash," "sheer perfection of workmanship," and now that you've introduced them, also "crap," and "a tour de force of virtuoso technique."

Given that we do not even agree on what "objective" and "subjective" mean, I don't see any point in moving beyond that issue and entertaining your various terms.

I will be generous, however, and I will help you out with the Loomis drawings and his conclusions, which I referred to previously. (See the attached image.)

I've scanned in the page from his book; however, I've rearranged the five drawings (I had remembered that there were four, but there are actually five) and deleted the numbers (1 through 5. I have also deleted the the text but for Mr. Loomis' concluding comments.

What I've done should be no problem for you given what you think should be possible of me with respect to not only Miss Rand's assessments ("trash" and "sheer perfection of workmanship") respectively of Parrish's work and Capuletti's work, but your own criteria -- "trash," "sheer perfection of workmanship," "crap," and "tour de force of viruoso techinique" -- which you expect me to use in making a judgement about those two artists' respective works. By far, I think you have the much simpler task. Should be a breeze for you.

So, tell me, which of the images are which? Look at the five images and tell me which two have "great possibilities," which two "still have hope," and which one "verges on those awful drawings in public places"?

And don't cheat and look at the actual page in his book if you have access to it. I've given you sufficient information, given your own expectation of me, for you to be able to do what you ask of me with respect to Parrish's and Capuletti's work(s).

Also, explain the basis, your reasoning, for your assessments. Show me how to go about doing what it is you expect of me.

By the way, by "marginal drawings," Mr. Loomis was referring to the five drawings I have rearranged -- they were originally arranged vertically along the right hand side, the margin, of the page, to the right of his text.

Much good luck!

post-4290-0-26300500-1324619705_thumb.jp

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You can't independently identify whether or not a statement is true? Isn't the idea of Objectivism to think for oneself?

[...]

I just wanted to stress how much I disagree with the idea of giving someone an "account of credibility." I think the idea is quite anti-Objectivist. Someone's brilliance in one area of thought doesn't translate to, or earn them any points in, another area of thought. The merit of any position on any topic is the only thing that should be considered.

Don't mean to intrude too much. My knowledge of these topics is miniscule -- I don't know who Parrish or Capuletti are, for instance. (Should I?)

But the topic of agreeing with another person or disagreeing with them -- Rand, in this case -- interests me generally. On one hand, I agree with what you're saying, Jonathan. Certainly a person should make up his own mind about everything, and it ultimately shouldn't matter at all what others believe.

On the other hand, Trebor's position also seems right. If someone I respected offered an opinion that didn't immediately make sense to me -- we could say that it "baffles" me -- I should like to hear their reasoning before making any pronouncements on whether they were right or wrong.

Where mathematics are concerned, like 2+2=17, it shouldn't be too much work to get to the bottom of things. They were making a joke? Using some funky base? Remember that the context is "someone I respect," so I want to understand what actual meaning they intend to convey. Of course, if I conclude that they mean what we normally do with respect to simple addition, I'll have no problem voicing my equally simple disagreement. At that point I may have to start wondering how they've come to such a lousy conclusion...

But art -- we're still talking about art, right? :) -- whatever its subjective or objective components, is a far richer subject. I can't imagine simply dismissing someone's opinions out of hand on the basis of a statement like "so and so is trash," without trying to understand their actual meaning, let alone the opinions of someone I respect. Again, once I believe I understand their meaning, I won't have any problems voicing my disagreement should it persist. Ayn Rand has no special favors in this regard, and I'm sure that Trebor wouldn't accord her any either.

I guess my motto in these sorts of cases would be something like "seek first to understand."

Also, explain the basis, your reasoning, for your assessments. Show me how to go about doing what it is you expect of me.

By the way, by "marginal drawings," Mr. Loomis was referring to the five drawings I have rearranged -- they were originally arranged vertically along the right hand side, the margin, of the page, to the right of his text.

Much good luck!

Uhm... I'm gonna guess that dress and pipe are the head of the class, buttons and top-center still have possibilities, and the remaining one "verges on awful," though I can't imagine judging any child's art like that. So you'll have to tell me sometime... do I have a future as a fine art critic? :)

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Uhm... I'm gonna guess that dress and pipe are the head of the class, buttons and top-center still have possibilities, and the remaining one "verges on awful," though I can't imagine judging any child's art like that. So you'll have to tell me sometime... do I have a future as a fine art critic? :)

I'm uploading the image again, but I've modified it to label each of the five drawings as A, B, C, D and E in order to make it easier to communicate which of the drawings are 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Mr. Loomis' assessments . (When I saw that you had labeled them variously as "dress," "pipe," etc., I realized that it would help were they labeled in some manner.)

If I understand your guesses, Tyler, the order as Mr Loomis' presented the images would be:

1 = A ("dress") - has great possibility

2 = C ("pipe") - has great possibility

3 = E ("buttons") - still has possibility

4 = B ("top-center") - still has possibility

5 = D ("the remaining one") - verges on those awful drawings in public places

Correct?

Eventually, I'll post at least one more image, my scan of the entire page with the images ordered and numbered as Mr. Loomis presented them as well as his full text. I may post an intermediate image showing the drawings as presented - top to bottom on the right - and numbered by Mr. Loomis but with no additional text (not revealing Mr. Loomis' criteria for his assessments).

By the way, are you willing to share your reasoning for your selections, Tyler?

post-4290-0-19136800-1324655304_thumb.jp

Edited by Trebor
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Actually Tyler (and any others who might be inclined to do so) please hold off and let Jonathan13 show me how to do what he has been asking me to do with respect to Parrish's and Capuletti's works with respect to the criteria of "trash," "sheer perfection of workmanship," "crap" and "tour de force of viruoso technique," using instead these drawings from Loomis and Loomis' own assessments on his criteria of "possibility" and "awful drawings in public places."

Jonathan13 has all the images needed, given they are the images Loomis himself used for his own assessments, and Jonathan13 has Loomis' own assessments and criteria, in the manner that I have Miss Rand's and his assessments or criteria of "trash," etc. He should now be able to tell me whether or not Loomis' assessments/judgements are true or not. [As well, I forgot earlier, Jonathan13, which of the drawings, A, B, C, D and E, are Loomis' 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5? Which two have "great possibility"? Which two "still has possibility"? And which one "verges on those awful drawings in public places"? And why? What are your reasons for your assessments/judgements?]

I'm eager to hear what Jonathan as to say, and having others get involved could easily muddy the water. Thanks for understanding.

Jonathan13, I look forward to your demonstration.

Edited by Trebor
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By the way, are you willing to share your reasoning for your selections, Tyler?

Actually Tyler (and any others who might be inclined to do so) please hold off and let Jonathan13 show me how to do what he has been asking me to do with respect to Parrish's and Capuletti's works with respect to the criteria of "trash," "sheer perfection of workmanship," "crap" and "tour de force of viruoso technique," using instead these drawings from Loomis and Loomis' own assessments on his criteria of "possibility" and "awful drawings in public places."

To the second quote first, of course I'll hold off.

To the first quote second, of course I'm willing to share my "reasoning." :)

Just let me know.

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Because I do not know which works you are referring to (or that Miss Rand was referring to) with respect to Parrish and Capuletti, all of their respective works or some of them. None have been pointed out by you.

Do a Google image search for Jose Manuel Capuletti to see samples of his work.

If you want me to be more specific, his painting El Muro is one which Rand raved about and claimed that it was a tour de force which contained sheer perfection of workmanship:

"(El Muro) is a tour de force: it is a still life featuring a solid expanse of old, peeling, blotched, cracked plaster wall. If ever there was a subject for the modern cults of decay and degradation, this was it. You would not believe that it could be made beautiful - beautiful and inspiring by the sheer perfection of workmanship; neither did I until I saw it."

[Aside: "You" would not believe that it could be made beautiful? How does Rand know what others would or not believe possible? Personally, I think that anything can be made beautiful. And also, I don't think that Capuletti succeeded in making the wall "beautiful and inspiring." I think it's student-grade work.]

As for Rand's opinion of Parrish's work, according to Ayn Rand Answers—the Best of her Q & A, she was asked at the Ford Hall Forum in 1977:

"What do you think of the works of the artist Maxfield Parrish?"

And she offered only one word:

"Trash."

So, clearly she was being asked about his entire body of works -- his overall representative talents as a renowned artist -- and she gave her opinion.

Here are examples of some of Parrish's most famous paintings which should serve as being representative of his abilities:

http://www.goodart.org/mpallah.jpg

http://www.artsycraf...mp_daybreak.jpg

http://www.goodart.org/mpfanta.jpg

http://www.artsycraf...ing_beauty.html

http://www.americani...parrish/001.jpg

http://www.goodart.org/mprever.jpg

http://www.goodart.org/mpbirch.jpg

Now, compare Capuletti to Parrish, and if you still can't decide if Rand was giving subjective opinions about the two, then I think that you're demonstrating my point of just how much subjectivity can be involved in such judgments by being very subjective yourself.

Also, in this conversation, I think you're demonstrating your own confusion, incoherence, selectivity and inconsistency in applying your own vague notions of "objectivity" and "subjectivity." There appears to be no rhyme or reason to your views. The most subjective of judgments become "personal but objective" by your method, but then they don't, or maybe they do or don't. You don't seem to be sure one way or the other. You conflate the fact that one makes a judgment with the judgment itself, but then you back away from that conflation sometimes when you think it suits you. You appear to be quite confused and very arbitrary on the subject, flitting back and forth between conflicting positions.

Given that we do not even agree on what "objective" and "subjective" mean, I don't see any point in moving beyond that issue and entertaining your various terms.

I don't know that we disagree on what the terms mean. It depends on which of your own conflicting positions you actually believe. I think the problem is that you need to decide what "objective" and "subjective" mean to you, and then consistently stick to it rather than trying to invent ways in which to claim that your subjective tastes, preferences and judgments (and Peikoff's and Rand's) are "objective but personal."

So, tell me, which of the images are which? Look at the five images and tell me which two have "great possibilities," which two "still have hope," and which one "verges on those awful drawings in public places"?

First of all, what you're asking me to do doesn't parallel with what I'm asking you to do. I'm asking you to apply your theory of objectivity in judging works of art which Rand is known to have also judged. I've told you what her judgments were, and I'm asking if you agree with her that one artist created trash where the other created art that deserved the highest of praise, and if you think that her judgments were objective (and therefore the one and only truth, and the one and only identification of reality as it exists independent of anyone's consciousness).

But you, on the other hand, are not asking me to give my own judgments of works of art, but to guess at which stick-man drawings Loomis prefers, and you're doing so while purposefully avoiding telling me what his judgments were of each drawing.

An actual parallel would involve your giving me examples of artworks to view, and then telling me what Loomis' judgments of them were, and then asking me if I agree that his judgments were objective.

But, be that as it may, I'm more than willing to play along. So. The task you've assigned me is to try to determine which of 5 children's drawings Loomis believes have great possibility, which have hope, and which is awful?

It would depend on Loomis' subjective preferences. Some of the drawings have certain advantages, where others have other advantages. When judging art, does Loomis subjectively place more importance on, say, expressiveness and character? If so, he might go with drawing E. Does he subjectively place more importance on simple, essential anatomical proportions? If so, he would probably prefer B, D, and E. Does he subjectively prefer detail, and so much so that he's willing to overlook anatomical inconsistency? If so, then he would probably prefer A or C.

I'd also say the same of Rand. Why did she adore Capuletti? Because she subjectively preferred what she saw as "bold, pure colors," clean, precise details, clarity and distinctly "discernible boundaries," and she had a subjective distaste for soft edges, toned down color palettes, and what she called "messy" brushstrokes.

Also, excluding any subjective preferences, and judging only the objectively measurable aspects of Parrish's work versus Capuletti's, Parrish is by far the superior artist. He had mastered everything about visual art, including perspective, anatomy, color theory, proportion, composition, expression and color/value modulation where Capuletti had not. Capuletti was, at best, mediocre-to-good at those things, and he was often quite bad at some of them (especially perspective, proportion and color/value modulation). The only grounds on which a person could prefer Capuletti to Parrish are subjective preferences.

J

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I had stated that my view is that judgments of art include both objective and subjective elements, and that, generally, the less literature-like an art form is, the less objectivity can be brought to interpreting any meaning that it is intended to have (if it has intended meaning).

Yes, I remember that you said that. That's why the discussion on the meaning of "objective" and "subjective." Without understanding those terms, those concepts, without knowing what you mean when you use them, I cannot be certain that I understand you.

Look, in my own view there is a lot of subjective BS in the art world (just as there is with your own views on art), a lot of blown-up, pretentious and idiotic "crap" not only with respect to the work but also with respect to the interpretation and assessments, praise and dismissal. I think I'm right about that. You may even agree. But my statement is abstract. You have no idea if I mean the same thing that you might mean, should you agree with me, and so, in order to ensure that we are in agreement, there are terms, key terms, that we have to make certain that we are using with the same meaning. What do I mean by "blown-up," "pretentious," "idiotic 'crap," etc. The same with concepts such as "objective," about which you and I disagree about.

In response, you brought up your (and Peikoff's) idea of "objective (factual) personal preferences." In the context of our discussion, I took you to be claiming that "personal preferences" in judging art are objective rather than subjective. You seemed to be saying that because it is a fact that someone likes certain things, then that fact is objective, and therefore the judgment itself is also objective. My point was that, no, that does not logically follow: someone's subjective judgments do not become objective using your (and Peikoff's) method. Using your method, there would be no such thing as subjectivity, because it is an objective fact that people have subjective preferences and therefore their subjective preferences would be objective.

The idea, the phrase, of "objective (factual) personal preferences" is mine, not Dr. Peikoff's. I mentioned his discussion of the distinction between FOR and OF and I asked you if you agree with the distinction. As I understood you, you do not agree with that distinction.

That idea, or phrasing of an idea, "objective (factual) personal preference," (again, mine, not Dr. Peikoff's) taken out of context could easily be confusing, and perhaps I was confusing you in my using it. I don't think so, but perhaps I was, and perhaps you were therefore confused. But I think that the distinction I was making has been cleared up.

My point, again, is that if someone holds a preference for something, whether their preference is objective or subjective by some other standard ("good" or "bad," "art" or "non-art," "healthy" or "non-healthy," etc.), it is an objective fact that they hold their preference. That's as far as the fact that they objectively, factually, hold a preference goes in and of itself. In itself, a preference doesn't tell you whether or not it is objective in some other sense, whether their preferences is "good" or "better" or "right" or "wrong," etc. That someone prefers vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream does not tell you that vanilla ice cream is "good" or "bad," with respect to their health, for instanced, etc. Assessments of "good" and "bad," (or "art" or "non-art") etc., require a standard, an objective standard, in order for them to be objective in that respect.

No, I did not mean that "personal preferences" in judging art are objective rather than subjective." Nor did I mean that "personal preferences" in judging art are subjective rather than objective. Nor did I say any such thing. The only sense in which I hold that personal preferences are objective by virtue of their being preferences is, again, in the sense that they are in fact, objectively, personal preferences. They are objective in the sense that they are in fact the preferences that someone holds or has. That is what I mean by "objective (factual) personal preference." But again, in and of themselves, personal preference, though they are objectively personal preference or "objective (factual) personal preferences," (a phrase that I would not normally use, but have within a specific context of our discussion) their preferences do not indicate whether they are objective or subjective by other standards.

"My point was that, no, that does not logically follow: someone's subjective judgments do not become objective using your (and Peikoff's) method. Using your method, there would be no such thing as subjectivity, because it is an objective fact that people have subjective preferences and therefore their subjective preferences would be objective."

And I agree: someone's subjective judgements do not become objective using my "method" (and please, from now own, stop attributing "my method" to Dr. Peikoff). I never presented a "method" (alchemy) by which the subjective becomes the objective or by which the objective becomes the subjective.

We're still talking at cross purposes because the terms "objective" and "subjective" are being used in an inconsistent manner. That's what I've been trying to clear up, in contrast to you.

Now, if your point was not to claim that someone's personal tastes and preferences are objective, what was the relevance to this discussion of your bringing up the idea that it is an "objective fact that a person likes vanilla ice cream"? If you were you not trying to claim that the objective fact that a person likes vanilla makes his judgment of/preference for vanilla objective, what was your point and how was it relevant to the topic?

My point was to identify in what way one can refer to someone's personal tastes and preferences as objective and in what way one can refer to someone's personal taste and preferences as subjective. My point was not to claim that someone's personal tastes and preferences are objective, nor was my point to claim that someone's personal tastes and preferences are subject, not with respect to some standard beyond the fact that their preferences are in fact, objectively, their preferences. By themselves, personal tastes and preferences cannot be judged as being objective or subjective with respect to other standards.

My point was to ensure clarity in our discussion of the terms "objective" and "subjective." Something you have failed to do.

I was using standard dictionary definitions, and I think that they're consistent with Rand's views on the subject.

Well, they are not consistent with Miss Rand's views on the subject. I believe that I've shown how. At best they muddle the distinction between the two terms.

By "independent of individual thought," "perceptible by all observers," and "dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations," I (and lexicographers) mean that same thing that Rand did in saying that objectivity is "the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness."

But then, and this is why those definitions are poor, by those definitions there can be no objective thought, no objective knowledge, no objective judgements, etc. as all thought, knowledge, judgements, etc., are dependent on individual thought, not perceptible by all observers.

I don't think that that is an accurate view of objectivity. One can be objective -- one can use one's consciousness to "acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic)" -- and be wrong. One can believe, for example, that the Earth is flat by observing everything he sees, and by using reason and logic. If he doesn't have access to certain knowledge, and if he doesn't know that he lacks that knowledge, he may use reason and logic to the best of his ability and ultimately be wrong. Objectivity doesn't guaranty a true result.

Sure, one can be rational yet still make errors and therefore draw wrong conclusions. I did not say and do not think that the primary concern, with respect to distinguishing the objective from the subjective, is to guarantee accurate distinction between the true and the false. There's no such guarantee. Reason is not automatic, and therefore we have to use certain ideas to guide us in the proper use of reason. The concepts of objective and subjective provide such guidance.

If reality is what it is, then use your independent consciousness to identify what exists: In reality, is Maxfield Parrish's work "trash"? Is José Capuletti's "sheer perfection of workmanship"? Are those statements true or false? If your theory is, as you say, that distinguishing between the objective and the subjective is to distinguish the true from the false, then apply that theory to Parrish's and Capuletti's work.

So, IF Reality is What It Is, then I, or anyone else, should be able to look at Parrish's work and determine whether or not it is "trash" without any understanding of what "trash" is in the relevant sense. And the same with Capuletti's work. Without any understanding of what "sheer perfection of workmanship" means or is in the relevant sense, anyone should be able to look at Capuletti's work and determine whether or not it exemplifies "sheer perfection of workmanship." Therefore, if anyone cannot do that, then: Reality is NOT What It Is. That is your subjectivistic payoff!

You can't independently identify whether or not a statement is true? Isn't the idea of Objectivism to think for oneself?

Yes, I would agree that thinking for oneself is central to Objectivism.

Since it seems to be difficult for you to admit that Rand was wrong and/or subjective in a given isolated instance, let's temporarily remove Rand from the equation. So, for the time being, I'm not asking you to judge Rand, but only to objectively think for yourself and judge artists' works. As I asked in my last post -- a question which you did not answer -- "Objectively, is Parrish's work crap or is it not? Is Capuletti's work sheer perfection of workmanship or is it not?" Is it a "fact of reality" "independent of any perceiver's consciousness" that Parrish's work is trash and that Capuletti's is a tour de force of virtuoso technique and sheer perfection of workmanship?

What does "seems" to you have to do with anything?

I have no problem with admitting that Miss Rand was "wrong and/or subjective in a given isolated instance" IF she indeed was. Do you want me to simply take your word for it, to accept that she was "wrong and/or subjective in a given isolated instance" just because you say so?

What you ask is not difficult, it's impossible.

No, I have not asserted that all preferences are subjective, nor have I said that it is not possible to know or prove which aspects of our experiences of anything are inherent in the thing and which are contributed by our consciousnesses. Quite the contrary. Just like Rand, I have said only that certain judgments are subjective, and that some experiences involve aspects contributed by our own consciousness which we cannot prove to others.

Your thinking and statements are muddled and confused.

I fully understand Rand's concept of "objectivity." As I said in my last post:

The Objectivist view of "objectivity" is that it is the act of consciously choosing to adhere to reality via logic and reason.

From the evidence, I'd have to say that you do not understand Miss Rand's concept of "objectivity."

Then, in the name of reason and logical consistency, other currently subjective judgments should be given the same leeway: Tastes in abstract art must only temporarily be treated as an epistemologically subjective matter until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined with respect to abstract art; tastes in performance and conceptual art must only temporarily be treated as an epistemologically subjective matter until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined with respect to those art forms; etc. Therefore, those art forms, just like music, are valid art forms, and are just as someday-objective as Rand asserted that music will someday be. QED.

If there are no objective standards, then yes, I would agree, so-called "abstract art" should be treated as an epistemologically subjective matter.

My statement is an accurate summation of the Objectivist view of subjectivity.

Nonsense.

I think your mistake is that you've conflated the concept of "subjective" with the concept of "subjectivism." In your last post, you quoted Rand on "subjectivism," which is like equating "objective" with "Objectivism": One is a cognitive state where the other is a system of belief or ideology. To have a subjective taste or opinion now and then is not to adopt a system of subjectivism. To say that I have a subjective preference for major or minor chords, or for subtle, pastel tones or for bright, saturated ones, or for vanilla or chocolate, is not to say that all of my preferences in every aspect of life are subjective.

The concept "objective" is central to Objectivism, just as is the concept "subjective" central to subjectivism.

"To have a subjective taste or opinion now and then is not to adopt a system of subjectivism." I can agree with that, in a qualified way.

"To say that I have a subjective preference for major or minor chords, or for subtle, pastel tones or for bright, saturated ones, or for vanilla or chocolate, is not to say that all of my preferences in every aspect of life are subjective." I agree.

Why do you think that it's insulting for me to ask you to think for yourself and to have the intellectual independence to say that Rand was wrong, or that her opinion on a single subject was subjective?

Would you please start thinking for yourself?

I do think for myself, but you have not asked me to do so. You've asked me to do the absurd. You want to to arbitrarily accept on your say-so that Miss Rand was "wrong, or that her opinion on a single subject was subjective" without my having grasped that to be the case.

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Don't you also have all of the facts to objectively determine if any given artwork is good or bad, irrespective of Rand's opinions?

"Good" or "bad" by what standard?

There are objective standards of health and illness.

What if I ask you: Don't you have all of the facts to objectively determine if any given person is healthy or ill, irrespective of anyone else's opinions?

You seem to equate "objective" with omniscience.

So, apparently you're saying that there could be some valid reasons which would objectively make Parrish's work trash and Capuletti's perfection?

Yes

"Baffled" implies disagreement with her. It suggests that your own judgment conflicts with hers. You appear to disagree with Rand that Parrish's work is trash and that Capuletti's is perfection. The point is, if there is only one truth, what is the truth? Is your position that Rand was such an expert and connoisseur of the visual arts, and that she has such a high "account of credibility" with you, that she may have known something about visual art that you and the rest of the world don't? Do you believe that she actually may have had knowledge of what constitutes "virtuoso technique" in painting, and so much so that you're willing to doubt your own experienced eyes and doubt your own informed judgments?

That, to me, doesn't sound like objectivity. It sounds like the avoidance of using reason, logic and judging for oneself. It sounds like the lack of confidence to display intellectual independence from Rand, and to disagree with her in an area where she had much less knowledge and experience than you do.

More nonsense.

I just wanted to stress how much I disagree with the idea of giving someone an "account of credibility." I think the idea is quite anti-Objectivist. Someone's brilliance in one area of thought doesn't translate to, or earn them any points in, another area of thought. The merit of any position on any topic is the only thing that should be considered.

Okay, your "stress" has been noted.

But then, so what? I should consider your disagreement as significant or important, but I should not consider Miss Rand's views with respect to Parrish or Capuletti?

I see.

I think that I've identified your fundamental error. Call it a tentative hypothesis. For conceptual knowledge to be objective, in your view, it must be self-evident, as with perception. No context, no hierarchy, just open one's eyes and one can see and know what is "trash" and what is "sheer perfection of workmanship." Little wonder then that you think that such judgements are all subjective.

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Do a Google image search for Jose Manuel Capuletti to see samples of his work.

I've seen photos online of several of his works, but I've never seen one in person. Likewise with Parrish's work. Have you ever seen photos of a work of art and then seen the originals, perhaps in a museum? There can be a big difference, if you have never noticed. I'm not saying that is the key here. Just noting that it is the case.

If you want me to be more specific, his painting El Muro is one which Rand raved about and claimed that it was a tour de force which contained sheer perfection of workmanship:

"(El Muro) is a tour de force: it is a still life featuring a solid expanse of old, peeling, blotched, cracked plaster wall. If ever there was a subject for the modern cults of decay and degradation, this was it. You would not believe that it could be made beautiful - beautiful and inspiring by the sheer perfection of workmanship; neither did I until I saw it."

[Aside: "You" would not believe that it could be made beautiful? How does Rand know what others would or not believe possible? Personally, I think that anything can be made beautiful. And also, I don't think that Capuletti succeeded in making the wall "beautiful and inspiring." I think it's student-grade work.]

As for Rand's opinion of Parrish's work, according to Ayn Rand Answers—the Best of her Q & A, she was asked at the Ford Hall Forum in 1977:

"What do you think of the works of the artist Maxfield Parrish?"

And she offered only one word:

"Trash."

So, clearly she was being asked about his entire body of works -- his overall representative talents as a renowned artist -- and she gave her opinion.

Interesting that you think that anything can be made beautiful? Can the ugly be made beautiful? I mean in the same sense that it is ugly. If it's made beautiful, is it still ugly? I'm just puzzled by the idea.

And I still do not know what Miss Rand meant by "trash" or why she judged Parrish's work as "trash." Nor do I know what she meant by "sheer perfection of workmanship" or why she judged Capuletti's work to be "sheer perfection of workmanship." Do you?

To your aside, you seem to make a big deal about her use of "you": "You would not believe that it could be made beautiful - beautiful and inspiring by the sheer perfection of workmanship; neither did I until I saw it." I think you are reaching. Oops. Am I speaking for you?

Here are examples of some of Parrish's most famous paintings which should serve as being representative of his abilities:

...snip...

Now, compare Capuletti to Parrish, and if you still can't decide if Rand was giving subjective opinions about the two, then I think that you're demonstrating my point of just how much subjectivity can be involved in such judgments by being very subjective yourself.

I'm sorry, Jonathan, this is irrelevant. I still, as I have pointed out many times, do not know what she meant by "trash" or "sheer perfection of workmanship," etc.

Also, in this conversation, I think you're demonstrating your own confusion, incoherence, selectivity and inconsistency in applying your own vague notions of "objectivity" and "subjectivity." There appears to be no rhyme or reason to your views. The most subjective of judgments become "personal but objective" by your method, but then they don't, or maybe they do or don't. You don't seem to be sure one way or the other. You conflate the fact that one makes a judgment with the judgment itself, but then you back away from that conflation sometimes when you think it suits you. You appear to be quite confused and very arbitrary on the subject, flitting back and forth between conflicting positions.

Now you are being dishonest.

I don't know that we disagree on what the terms mean. It depends on which of your own conflicting positions you actually believe. I think the problem is that you need to decide what "objective" and "subjective" mean to you, and then consistently stick to it rather than trying to invent ways in which to claim that your subjective tastes, preferences and judgments (and Peikoff's and Rand's) are "objective but personal."

Wow, you are projecting a lot onto me. I didn't even know that I had yet presented any of my tastes, preferences or judgements.

And, more dishonesty.

First of all, what you're asking me to do doesn't parallel with what I'm asking you to do. I'm asking you to apply your theory of objectivity in judging works of art which Rand is known to have also judged. I've told you what her judgments were, and I'm asking if you agree with her that one artist created trash where the other created art that deserved the highest of praise, and if you think that her judgments were objective (and therefore the one and only truth, and the one and only identification of reality as it exists independent of anyone's consciousness).

It parallels exactly what you have asked of me. You have the drawings which Mr. Loomis assessed, and you have his assessments: "has great possibility," "still has possibility" and "verges on those awful drawings in public places".

Strange, I don't remember presenting a theory of objectivity in judging works of art.

But you, on the other hand, are not asking me to give my own judgments of works of art, but to guess at which stick-man drawings Loomis prefers, and you're doing so while purposefully avoiding telling me what his judgments were of each drawing.

You were given Mr. Loomis' judgements, just as I was given Miss Rand's judgement. I've asked you whether or not Mr. Loomis's judgements are true, just as you asked me whether Miss Rand's were true.

An actual parallel would involve your giving me examples of artworks to view, and then telling me what Loomis' judgments of them were, and then asking me if I agree that his judgments were objective.

But I Jonathan. I did give you examples of artworks to view, and I told you what Mr. Loomis' judgements of there were. Are his judgements objective? (I believe now that I know how you would respond - below.)

But, be that as it may, I'm more than willing to play along. So. The task you've assigned me is to try to determine which of 5 children's drawings Loomis believes have great possibility, which have hope, and which is awful?

Yes. Those were Loomis' judgements ("has great possibility," "still has possibility" and "verges on those awful drawings in public places" not "have great possibility," "have hope" and "awful"), just as Miss Rand's were "trash" and "sheer perfection of workmanship," etc.

It would depend on Loomis' subjective preferences. Some of the drawings have certain advantages, where others have other advantages. When judging art, does Loomis subjectively place more importance on, say, expressiveness and character? If so, he might go with drawing E. Does he subjectively place more importance on simple, essential anatomical proportions? If so, he would probably prefer B, D, and E. Does he subjectively prefer detail, and so much so that he's willing to overlook anatomical inconsistency? If so, then he would probably prefer A or C.

But of course. It is all a matter of subjective preferences, after all. Well, with a few exceptions. (below)

I'd also say the same of Rand. Why did she adore Capuletti? Because she subjectively preferred what she saw as "bold, pure colors," clean, precise details, clarity and distinctly "discernible boundaries," and she had a subjective distaste for soft edges, toned down color palettes, and what she called "messy" brushstrokes.

So, the reasons she preferred "bold, pure colors," clean, precise details, clarity and distinctly "discernible boundaries" were? Oh yes, it was subjective.

Also, excluding any subjective preferences, and judging only the objectively measurable aspects of Parrish's work versus Capuletti's, Parrish is by far the superior artist. He had mastered everything about visual art, including perspective, anatomy, color theory, proportion, composition, expression and color/value modulation where Capuletti had not. Capuletti was, at best, mediocre-to-good at those things, and he was often quite bad at some of them (especially perspective, proportion and color/value modulation). The only grounds on which a person could prefer Capuletti to Parrish are subjective preferences.

Let's see. All preferences are subjective, in your view, so yes, to be objective in judging a work of art, we have to leave all of those out. We then focus only on the measurable aspects, like perspectvie, anatomy, color theory, proportion, composition, expression (?) and color/value modulation.

Are there any other objective aspects to artworks, namely paintings given that Parrish and Capuletti were painters? All that is left, beyond those measurable aspects which you've listed, is subjective? (I think that I know your answer, but I'm certainly willing to read otherwise.)

Out of curiosity, do you know anything about how Parrish actually worked in creating his paintings? Or Capuletti?

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To the second quote first, of course I'll hold off.

To the first quote second, of course I'm willing to share my "reasoning." :)

Just let me know.

Thank you, Tyler, for holding off.

I do not believe that Jonathan will be adding anything more with respect to my purpose in posting the image, so if you're still willing, I would be interested to see your thinking behind the choices you made. They were:

1 = A ("dress") - has great possibility

2 = C ("pipe") - has great possibility

3 = E ("buttons") - still has possibility

4 = B ("top-center") - still has possibility

5 = D ("the remaining one") - verges on those awful drawings in public places

After you reply, I'll post the scan of the page, showing the drawings as numbered by Mr. Loomis as well as his comments.

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