From my favorite science blog, Sean Carroll on Hidden Structures. Almost touchingly naive... but gets to the heart of how we talk about judgement in art and literature, what it's possible to say, and what it's not--is there hope of finding a common language?
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When it comes to art (considered broadly, so as to include literature and various kinds of performance, not to mention a good bottle of wine) I am a radical subjectivist. If you like it, great; if you don’t, that’s your prerogative. There is no such thing as being “right” or “wrong” in one’s opinion about a work of art; what’s important is the relationship between the work and the person experiencing it.
Nevertheless, there’s no question that one’s attitude toward a work of art can be radically changed by outside information or experiences. You might come to understand it better, or conversely you might be overexposed to it and just get bored.
Scientists, in particular, love it when they discover that some boring old art thing that they had previously perceived as undifferentiated and uninteresting actually possesses some hidden structure. If you were ever caught in the unfortunate situation of teaching an art- or film-appreciation class to scientists, the right strategy would be to reveal, insofar as possible, the underlying theories by which the work in question is constructed. And if you think there are no such theories, you’re just not looking hard enough.
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