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Old May 28 2013, 01:48 PM   #134
Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

thestrangequark wrote: View Post
It's an interesting philosophical question, I think. Is there any objective measure of art? I think there can be...sort of... once we define parameters. However, those parameters will necessarily be arbitrary, so I'm not sure where that leaves our standards in terms of objectivity. If our arbitrary parameter for judging music is complexity and subtlety of melody, then Mozart is a hands-down winner. But if it's skillful and inventive rhyme, then Kanye wins. If movie "art" is defined by the ability to build psychological suspense, Hitchcock is obviously the better artist, but if we are defining art as the ability to entertain then (whether or not we find it palatable) Michael Bay might have an edge -- I don't think I've ever seen a Michael Bay movie...I'm just going on his popular success.
True. I just noticed that the implicit criterium for "objectively good" I used in this thread was 'having become a timeless classic that stands the test of time'. This is obviously not a bad criterium but it is subject to group thinking. Kestrel mentioned Marlowe and I haven't read Marlowe not because I actually know that I like his dramas less than the Bard's but because everybody else thinks like this.
One's preferences are correlated with those of everybody else (this is why do e.g. we checks sites which aggregate movie reviews if we need some info which helps us to decide whether we should watch a movie or not) but not perfectly. So just because many folks over space and time have deemed a certain artist or piece of art to be good doesn't imply that you think like this as well.

In addition this leads to a selection and amplification problem. To stay with theatre, if a play isn't particularly successful when it is first put on stage (as well as, to exclude something like Waiting for Godot, the first few years) it is unlikely that it will ever appear on the stage again. It becomes forgotten and while it is possible that somebody who goes through entire oeuvre of an author rediscovers such a forgotten play he might not actually put it on stage even if he likes it because of risk aversion ("I like it but nobody before me did so there has to be a reason for it").

So yeah, once you start to think about a criterium which seems to be on an intuitive level a good proxy for "objectively good" it turns out to have numerous problems.
The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer. - former US Secretary of State and unconvicted war criminal Henry Kissinger
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