By Janet Wolff
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A far mentioned query in classical reviews is the comparability among the location of poets in Augustan Rome and that of artists and intellectuals within the totalitarian regimes of the 20 th century. As instructive as this query proves to be for an realizing of the relation among the liberty of paintings and pondering at the one hand and gear at the different, it additionally finds the insufficiency of our current seize of this important articulation of our humanity.
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A literary work is not an object which stands by itself and which offers the same face to each reader in each period. It is not a monument which reveals its timeless essence in a monologue. , p. 10). He points out, obviously rightly, that any work continues to have an effect only if future generations still respond to it or rediscover it. Any particular aesthetic judgement or effect, he maintains, is a function of the 'horizon of expectations' of the audience for a work. New works will have greater or lesser aesthetic distance from the horizon of expectations of their readers, in some cases (the example he cites is Madame Bovary) producing such great aesthetic distance that only a few readers know how to understand the work.
Even here there are problems, as when Lukacs argues (with Engels's views as confirming authority on this) that even non-progressive participants, like the royalist and reactionary Balzac, can comment on their particular 'totality'. As Lovell (1980, p. 74) points out, this is inconsistent with Lukacs's own view, as expressed in History and Class Consciousness, that the condition of realism and truth was involvement with the standpoint of the proletariat; perhaps, in the case of the rise of capitalism, the equivalent should be the standpoint of the emerging and revolutionary bourgeoisie - but certainly not the apologists for the old regime.
The question is whether it can nevertheless be 'objective' in the sense of transcending its source, and approximating to 'truth'. Russell Keat, in a recent critical study of Habermas which to some extent reinstates the notion of value-freedom (Keat, 1981, p. 36 in particular), argues that despite the existence of normative elements in social science, its statements are still amenable to criteria of validity, and in this sense value-free. , p. , p. 39). He emphatically rejects Habermas's conclusions, that the truth or falsity of statements in social science is a function of their emancipatory power or success, or of their acceptance by those whom they concern.
Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art by Janet Wolff