PRINT February 1973

After the Quality Problem

WHILE QUALITY ASCRIPTIONS ARE MEANINGFUL only as emotive expressions in response to an art work, they say very little about that response of the speaker to the art work. And this holds as well for expressions, such as “the painting is good,” “I like the painting,” or “the painting is interesting.” Such expressions are no more than signals of approval accomplished just as effectively by the Roman signals “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down”; but except as signals of approval these expressions say nothing, and as such, they hardly constitute discussion about art work or anyone’s response to it. To insist that an art work is interesting is not different from insisting on an art work’s quality; for being interesting can no more constitute a characteristic of an art work than can being quality, and the insistence on either is the confusion of response with the assertion of fact. However, implicit in

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