LETTER : In defence of my aesthetic judgements

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The Independent Online
From Professor R. A. Sharpe

Sir: William Maloney (Letters, 10 February) describes his belief that Schubert is superior to Blur as "pure prejudice", but then goes on to argue that children should make and defend their own judgements about the value of art.

Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn (same issue) argue that comparative judgements depend upon "subjective criteria" and then go on to say that children need to make informed judgements about what has value. Do your correspondents see the inconsistency here? If you think that your aesthetic judgements can be rationally defended, which of course they can, then they are not "pure prejudice".

Do Mr Greenfield and Mr Osborn really think that the truism that Tolstoy is a better writer than Lord Archer depends upon merely "subjective criteria"? Of course it does not. Reasons can be given. Taste in art is not like having a taste for ice-cream and your correspondents concede this as soon as they begin to talk about education. This surely is the point as far as Nick Tate's remarks are concerned.

Some of us are better judges of music, or painting, or literature than others because we spend a great deal of our time listening, looking or reading and thinking about these matters. To suggest that all our judgements are of equal weight does no service to schoolchildren

Yours faithfully,

R. A. Sharpe

Department of Philosophy

University of Wales

Lampeter, Dyfed

10 February