LETTER : Blurred rhythms of relativism

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The Independent Online
From Dr Andy Hamilton

Sir: Helen Wilkinson attacks Dr Nick Tate's defence of "high culture" as "elitist" ("You can't separate Blur from Schubert", 9 February). But is it elitist to argue that a diet of chart pop and soap operas with none of what is traditionally called "high culture" is an impoverished one, and something that schools should try to rectify?

Of course popular culture has "value in its own right", but the biggest enemy is not high-cultural elitism, but unthinking relativism that, for instance, equates Kylie Minogue and Jimi Hendrix. There is another term for the idea that there is no genuine aesthetic value, and that is philistinism.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Hamilton

Department of Philosophy

University of Durham

Durham

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