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Journal of Philosophy, Inc.

Common Sources of Value in the Arts and Everyday Life Author(s): Charles A. Fritz, Jr. Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 43, No. 18 (Aug. 29, 1946), pp. 486-496 Published by: Journal of Philosophy, Inc. Stable URL: . Accessed: 31/01/2011 08:15
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purposewas, in part,to place theprimaryqualities in nature,where theywould be withinthe provinceof the physicist, and to exclude the secondaryqualities fromnature,so that the scientistwould not have to be concerned withthem. But it is not because the primary qualities are in nature that the scientistdeals with them,nor is it because the secondary qualities are in the mind that he neglects them. The validityof sciencedoes not restupon such a metaphysical basis: sciencewas not undermined when Berkeleydemonstrated that the same arguments used to prove that secondaryqualities are in the mind can likewisebe used to show that primaryqualities are in the mind. The reason the scientistdeals withthe primaryqualities is that they are quantitative,and admit of precise treatment; and the reason he excludes the secondaryqualities is that they belong to the realm of the vague. Descartes' view that the primary qualities are distinct, secondaryqualities confused, the comescloser to the truththan does the Lockean conception. The natural sciencesdeal with the quantitativeand precise features of reality, whereas philosophy,in contrast,deals with the qualitativeand vague aspects of reality. This is an important differencebetweenphilosophyand science. It accounts for some of the lag of philosophybehind the natural sciences,and it must be taken into account by any view which regards science as the ideal structureof knowledgeor which attemptsto adapt the methodof the natural sciencesto philosophy. ARTHUR W. BURKS

COMMON SOURCES OF VALUE IN THE ARTS AND EVERYDAY LIFE result of many esthetictheoriesunfortunately to set the is artist up as a race apart with whom those who practice the ordinaryactivitiesof man can have no common bond. The artist's work,it is said, produces for him its own values and satisfactions which can not be obtained in any other activity,and which can onlybe obtainedby men devotingat the least theirspare time,and perhaps theirlives, entirelyto art. The performance the ordiof nary activitiesof men, so runs the theory,gives themno satisfaction; theymustturn in some otherdirectionto findthe meaningin life. Yet there are expressionsin commonspeech which seem to indicatea belief that the ordinaryworkerdoes at timesfindsignificance in his work,and even shares some of the values experienced by the professionalartist. Thus we speak sometimesof an individual's work as "a work of art," such as a general's battle, a




conceptionof government, more humbly,a new bridge or a or, teacher's class. Of course,one mightsay that such uses of "art" are merelyfigurative uses elevatingthe workerto a heighthe can neverreally attain; but actuallyI feel theyare verynear the truth of the matter. I should like to show in this paper that art is rathera manner of doing things,an attitude toward work,than a definite profession or finishedproduct of some kind. A painter is not then an artist because he paints pictures,but because by so doing he has managed to organizehis mediumin a way that expressessome view of his of the world. His interesthas been in this organizing, this paintingprocess,because in this way he has derived a certainselfcertain values that make him prize his professionas satisfaction, giving meaning to his life. These values he would not have obnot in the paintingitself, tained if he had painted froman interest but in the prestige or wealth that might result fromhis finished will findtheycan obtain selfpicture. Yet men in any profession satisfaction when theycarryon that profession froman interestin it itself,in its problems,in masteringits materials as well as possible, rather than in the ulterior results of their work; and that satisfaction will be of the same kind as the artist's in his work. It is then this distinction betweenworkingbecause of an interestin the workitselfand because of whatevergain may be expectedto be realized fromit that differentiates artist and the mere worker the regardlessof what profession theymay be engaged in. A definition "art" is usually determined the delineation of by of the subject-matter considered,and it is the inclusiveness this of delineation that will decide much as to the applicability of the entire theory. Thus many esthetictheoriesconcern only the fine arts (some, indeed,only painting), and oftenonly the objects produced by them,and the conceptionof art derivedfromthemis too narrowto include the more unconventional examples of art I mentioned at first. The definition "art," as of most other words, of is partly a matter of choice; if someonewants to talk about art and means by "art" only painting,that is his privilege. Often, however,thoughthe definition may be arbitrary,it is not obvious to the individual makingit how arbitraryit is; and he may be led to make dogmaticstatementsabout all art, which if the original view of art is too restrictedmay have unfortunateconsequences. Thus beginningonlyfromthe objects of the finearts it will be difficult to include the satisfactionproduced by more everydayactivities,and the artistas a resultbecomesseparatedfromotherworkers. To arrive at the wider conceptionof art that is the purpose of this paper, it is necessaryto include types of activitywhose products



would not ordinarilyqualify for the title "work of art," and see if some conceptionof the artisticprocess can not be derived from such a consideration. Several examples of these activitiesare presented in the next section. First of all, thereis the case of a man,a writerof technicalpublications, who thought of himself-privately-as an artist. One might have consideredhim a hack, writing detailed explanations of various complicatedpieces of radio equipmentfor the army or engineeringconcerns. In such work he had first of all to be thoroughlyacquainted with the equipment he was explaining as well as with the basic principles underlyingthe operation of any the limitations, radio set. He was, besides,workingunder definite in the nature of his subject-matter, deficiencies backgroundof his readers, and various arbitrary stipulations that he had to meet, outline statinghow many paragraphs the such as length,a definite book would have and in general what each would contain. Yet he startingfromso manygiven conditions still had enoughfreedom whose style and organization to make a distinctive book, something in spite of the predetermined outline could express somethingof his own personality. This writerbelieved that there were two importantsources for book: the fact of having organized his satisfactionin the finished all elements his materialforthe best solutionof his problem,and of his absorptionin that material. The fact that the book was complete he believed to be a necessaryelementin his satisfaction;for he felt his problem of presentinga theorycould not be solved by omittingany relevant facts. At the same time he realized that was not enough,that mere inclusion of all the facts completeness would not make a successfulbook; there had also to be organizawith tion,and for him "organization" was practicallysynonymous "structure." The organizationof all the facts,with no irrelevant order seemedto him to be the structure ones, in a logical, coherent of his work. The organizationfurtherinvolvedits communication to the reader, if not the sense of organizationitself,at least the relationbetweenthe ideas so that the reader would be carried from pointto point. For thisreasonliterarystylecould not be neglected. Accompanyingthis satisfactionwith the best organizationfor his purpose was the writer's absorption in his material. He organized his material in terms of the logical relations between its elements. His interestwas not personal, nor in the material for its practical uses, cost, or other such aspects. Rather, he became in interested the qualities and relationsinherentin the equipment




he was explaining,the relationof different parts to the functionof the set as a whole, the relation of particular parts to each other, and the unique characteristicsof each. Thus the writer found himselfworkingdivorced frompersonal aims and considerations, workingoutside himselfguided by external objects and relations. A second case of a man thinkingof himselfas an artist was a radio engineer designing radio receivers. His problem was not merelyto build a radio receiver, but to build a receiverwith better tone quality and sensitivity than a competitor's withina givenprice range, say $35. Besides designinga set that would serve his specificfunctionhe was limitedby otherconditions, the nature of the such as the size of materials themselves, and specificrestrictions the finishedproduct, patent rights not available to the designer, the necessityof using standard parts, and the physical difficulties of placing parts of odd shapes within the set. He utilized his knowledgeof the principlesof his science,his previous experience, and the results of experimentation until he felt that he had designed the best set possible under the given conditions. Since his final design indicated the relation of parts that best fulfilledthe given function,changing either the function or the conditions restricting design would have necessitateda change in the rethe lation of parts, and also given him more or less freedomto effect this change. His design was the result of an explorationof all the different elementsand their combinationsand directed the use of each elementwherethe designerbelieved it to be best fitted. Each elementhad its place, therewere none that could be omittedwithout affecting set and none interchangeable the better. The the for resultingradio set, by no means a structurebuilt withoutlimits, was determined the designer's aim, the conditionswithinwhich by he had to work,and his desire to build the best set possible under thoserestrictions. As a last example, let us consider a teacher of a class in philosophy. He was faced firstof all with the need to unifythe subhe ject-matter was to present. He was limited,not only by the in general nature of the subject, but by deficiencies his students' preparation,by the time they had available for reading, by the need to tie this class and this particular topic in with past and future classes, and especially by the fact that all this had to be done in a one-hourperiod, which meant that his discussionhad to be limitedto a few essentialpoints. He had to see that his hearers comprehendedthe unity of his subject and felt the relative importance and coherenceof the several concepts involved. Fixing one point,then another,he made his studentsmove step by step to an awarenessof the whole. He was consciousof this process,con-



scious not only of weaving togetherthe threads of his subject, but of gatheringup the membersof his class and unifyingthem with his presentationof the subject to make a unified pattern. The structureof his class was not merelythe outline of his lecture as he had writtenit down,but was inherentin his presentationof his materialand included the reactionsof the membersof his class, unfoldingas that class progressed. It was principallyto his skill and judicious choice that he owed the organizationof his subject, so that the whole theoryand the separate ideas were grasped by the class; however,the teacherhad not only a sense of organizing ideas and people. When ideas, but of shaping,of welding together he was mostsuccessfulhe was consciousonly of mattersotherthan himself: his ideas, the expression of them, the response of his pupils. His hearers may have been exhilarated by the class, rememberedit not only for its content,but perhaps even more for for the teacher's comthe skill in organizationand presentation, work. As for the teacher,he knew how well plete devotionto his he had done his job and when he had a good class; having done his job particularlywell, he said to himself,"That class was a work of art" -and he was right. II The importantcommonfeatures of all these unusual works of function; art are: (1) the producer is workingto fulfilla definite (2) he accomplisheshis aim by introducingthe appropriate kind of organizationor structureinto the materials he is dealing with, whetherthey are radio parts or ideas; and (3) this structureis delimitedand in part determinedby a set of external conditions, the nature of the materials he is handling, and other more arbitrary stipulations. Not only are these features importantin the activitiesI have already discussed,but they are also, I believe, the importantones in the work of the fineartist. This I shall try to show later. The fact that I have been using "organization" as almost synonymouswith "structure" indicates the universality that it is in a sense the formof practicallyall human of structure, activity. Any activity,other than the most rudimentary,must if have some organizationor structure it is to be otherthan a set of random movements;for each kind of activity,with the different outcometo be achieved,there will materialsused and the different be a different kind of structure. In the cases I have discussed kinds of material that must be organized, thereare three different "must" because a box full of electrical parts is not a radio receiver, any more than a page covered with words or phrases is a paragraph. Further,to say that structureis limited by external



conditionsmeans no more than that there is a specificstructure may be an instance for a specificsituation,althoughthis structure houses of a kind of structure,just as the plans of two different as are alike in being house plans but are different the two houses are different. Althoughthe presence of some structureis a necessarypart in carryingon the activities I have been discussingto some definite to end, it is not by any means sufficient make theirproductsworks of art. Even in the most haphazard of products there will have some structure. It is only by makingthe been some organization, best product that the workerhas approached the artist. For example, the teacher can be eithera drudge or a teacher in the full meaningof the word. He can eitherspend the hour reading aloud the outlines of a systemwithouttroublingto see whetheror not his class can follow him, technicallydoing his job, or he can be the teacherwho enables his class to follow or even anticipate him as he unfolds his subject and feels that his class is as much a between part of him as his emotionsor sensations. The difference the best or artistic product and the ordinaryproduct involves a difference the structureof the two. The ordinaryproduct will in not make the best use of the available material, its construction will not involveselectionof the best of the materialto use and the materials will not be combined in a way that best fulfillsthe function. In the technicalbook,forexample,the ideas may merely be writtendown to present the facts; no attemptbeing made to build up to the main point,to have the proper emphasisplaced on subordinatepoints,to make the reader feel the logical connection reading as posbetween the points,and to make it as interesting sible. The structureor organizationof the best product will contain all the required elementsand none that are superfluousand not related to the remainderof the structure. What is "best" in to each case is determinedby referring the functionof the final product as it is modifiedand limited by whateversecondaryconditions exist; it is a furthertest of the maker's skill, for he must have a completeknowledgeof his product,know preciselywhat it must do, and be able to know when he has a product that will do that. It is in the makingof this "best" product that the workerhas found an estheticsatisfaction. It has required the organization of objective materials, manipulating ideas or mechanical objects best utilizing the material he is workingwith,which requires not merelyputting the elementstogetherin any superficialway that but a thoroughinvestito some extentfulfills desired function, the gation of the qualities and potentialitiesof his material. It is



an impersonaltask at which he becomes absorbed in his subject and can disregard personal considerations. The non-artistic workerdoes not findthis fascinationin building a coherentstructure out of objective materials,but, rather,would find his job a necessaryevil. The workerwho findsa satisfactionin building a structurefor its own sake, will by so doing obtain self-expression, which he would thoughit may not be the degree of self-expression obtain if he were workingfor that end alone; but the necessity of achievingan objectivefunctionlike that servedby the technical book or radio set requires selectingand choosingelementsand determining ways in which they can be combined,and the selection and choicewill be an expressionof the workerjust as is everyone of his judgmentsand valuations. The fact that the workercan findan estheticsatisfaction his in workdoes not implythat the observerwill findhis productsesthetically pleasing or considerthemas worksof art. Frequently,there will be onlya limitednumberof personswho will have the detailed knowledgeto appreciate the care that has gone into his work. A book on higher mathematics may be an excellenttechnical book; but mostof its readers,who will be few enoughto begin with,will be able to read it only for its content,which, after all, is the reason for which it was written. Those who have such a grasp of the material as to leave them free to observe the way in which the book is writtenwill be able to judge and appreciate the author's work. Then they would be able to derive estheticsatisfaction fromthe manner in which the author expressed the subjectmatter,fromthe order and arrangement the ideas, ratherthan of from an understandingof the contentof the book. The author obtains his satisfactionby means of the product or structurehe creates; whetheror not others can obtain estheticsatisfactionin addition to technicalinformation for him a secondaryconsiderais tion. III So far I have hardly mentioned"fine arts," by which term I mean thosepursuitsfamiliarlycalled "arts" -painting, literatures music, and the like. But I believe that a closely parallel discussion can be followedfor them,althoughthereare several important differences.An analysisof the threeexamplesI gave earlierin this paper broughtout several common featuresof thoseactivities,common to most othersfor that matter,especially the organizationof some type of material for a definite purpose. I believe the work of the fine artist will show the same features,with his pleasure, again, obtained fromthe creationof the "best" structurein each




case. The workof fineart is a creationmade with perceptualmaterial, tones, words, colors, or forms,to express some idea of the artist's. The unity of the product and the fact that the work of art is a creationmeans that the workeror artist in these cases has organizedhis material,introducedsome structureinto it. The structuredeveloped for each kind of work of art is deterwhether minedby the qualities of the particularmediumconcerned, between colors and masses,or those between it is the relationships tones and melodies. In every art with the possible exception of painting it is obvious that organizationhas occurred. Sometimes the representational qualities of painting may cause one to overbetween look its structure. However,one of the visible differences a paintingof a scene and that scene itselfis the fact that the painting is a painting,a whole which is comprisedwithinthe frame of the picture, whereas the original scene was not a unity. Any unity in the view is imposed by the observerif only by a casual and arbitrarylimitationof the part of the view he is to observe. A photographis given unity by a somewhatbackhanded method of selectingfroma given landscape those portionswhich seem to follow conventionalprinciples of compositionin painting. There have been enough discussionsof principlesof "form" in art without my having to go into themhere. Withoutany exact determination of the principles of form,it remains that, in painting at least, "form" usually covers the conventionalmethodsby which contours,masses, colors, and lines are ordered and disposed to make the unifiedpicturethat is the artist's expressionof the scene he observes. In fineart, as in the commonactivitiesI have disdetermined cussed,each workwill have its own particularstructure under whichthat workis made, although by the specificconditions theywill be instancesof the general rules of organizationfor each kind of art. The activitiesdescribed in the firstpart of this paper had in each case a definitepractical function; the attainmentof self-exbut was obtained pressionwas not the primaryaim of the activities, by the worker in the course of making his product. For the workerin the finearts, however,not only is there self-expression and personal satisfactionobtained in the process of working,but the functionof his product. it is the end for which he is working, The artist achieves satisfactionby manipulating a medium, by placing formand structurein an objective material so the resultwhichhe apprehendsmore ing productexpressesan idea or emotion comes about clearly, perhaps, than others. His self-expression throughhis making the product; as he works and develops his becomesmorecompleteand moreexplicituntil themehis expression



when he is finished(and he himselfbest knows when he is finished) the end of the process has succeeded in tying togetherall of the threads of the themeand given a unity and finalityto his expression. His materialsare of such a nature that not only can he express some view of his own of the world by their manipulation, but the completedstructurecan communicate feelingsto his others. The work of art is a product with a definite its function, manufacture expressingthe artist's feelings,and the product itself communicating those feelingsto the beholder. The particular media the fine artist is workingin enable him to have moreprofoundand far-reaching expressionthan the worker who is constructing machine; both the artist and the worker a express themselvesto greater or less degree and both experience the same kind of satisfactionin the result. However, the artist's mediumhas a greaterflexibility and scope and also can communicate his expressionto others,so giving him a greater range and depth than the ordinary worker. In addition, the artist has a of single-mindedness purpose, expression,which the other can not have since his expressionis only the-indirect result of the making of a product with some wholly different function. It is the expressive functionof finished works of art, what they express and how theyexpressit, that is oftentreatedin books on esthetics, and this is not surprising, since the expressivefunctionof the finished work is one of its most importantaspects. In the case of the finearts, as in the case of the practical activities,the mere organizationof the material is not sufficient to produce a workof art. In the latter case, it had to be the "best" organization,the best for the particular problem concerned. So with the work of fineart; painting a picture does not necessarily make its painter an artist,unless it is among the "best" that can be painted. There is the same division in the fine arts between those who merelymake things,a painting or a building without any feelingfor the object theyare producing,and those who carry on that workfor an interestin it for its own sake. To accomplishhis purpose in makingthe "best" work of art, the artist must have a thoroughknowledge of his medium and derive the form of his works fromthe qualities of that medium, whichwill yield the form choosingthose qualities for development best suited to the expressionhe is workingtoward. He must have a completeknowledgeof its character,of its qualities, and a deep insightinto its potentialities. If he followsconventionalrules for his particular art form,such as in music and painting,he does so because he recognizesthat they express certain natural qualities of the medium. On the other hand, the painter who paints pic-




tures, but is not an artist,would follow those rules because most paintershave done so and because theyusually produce acceptable results. He would orderhis shapes and colorswithouthavingmade a completeinvestigationof them in each case or having an adequate realization of their use for expression. The satisfactionof achievementis reserved for the artist who has the profound interestin his materials and attemptsto use them to their best advantage in relationto the end he has in mind.

The essential distinctionin all the pursuits I have described is between the man producing goods with his only interest in the possible ulterioruses of his product,and the one producingobjects for the interestthey have in the work of making those products, whetherit be a good radio or a good painting. It is such an interestthat leads them to make a good product, an interestin the materialstheyare working with,an interest theirobscureas well in as theirobviousproperties, and an interestin tryingto unifythose materials in view of the end they have set themselves. This distinction pervades both commonactivities and fine arts, and has similar resultsin both, pictures or radios that show no originality or thoughtand are merelyacceptable products,as contrastedwith picturesand radios which are recognizedas the best in their field, a masterpiecein the one case, a great accomplishment the engiof neeringprofession the other. in The interestand satisfaction the workeror artist in his work of can come only when he is interestedin the making of his product, and whenhe is makingwhat he considersthebest product. Whether this product will be accepted as good by othersdepends upon his innate ability, training,or similar factors. However, though his workbe rejected by others,it will still seem good to the artist,and affordhim satisfaction;and products finallyaccepted as good by the world will have been judged to be good by the man who made them. The good artist has a profoundinterestin his art for its own sake, and loses himselfin workingwith words or ideas or in exploringthe hidden expressivepossibilities colors. The creative of processwill give him the same kind of satisfaction that the engineer or teacher experiencesin losing himselfin his subject-matter. It is a satisfactionthat can not be obtained by the painter or writer or teacherwho is workingonly with the end in view of praise, or of profit, of merelyfinishing appointed task. or an obtained by such work Workingfor the sake of the satisfaction will have the result,importantfor the world at large, of making



productsof higherquality. If it is a radio set that is being built, it will be a betterradio. This may not be so importantexcept to thosebuying a radio, but the same result will followfor all activiwork. In the latter case, ties, such as teachingand governmental structurewould result, and, above administrative a more effective with the welfare of the all, a greaterconcernof those in authority people dependentupon them-since their work consistsin looking of afterthe interests thosepeople. result of such an attitudetoward work But the most important is the value to be derivedby the individual doing the work,making it possible forhim to obtain thosevalues it is too oftenthoughtthat only the professionalartist can obtain. The practice of the fine if arts can thenbe related to commonactivities, it is true,as I have tried to show, that the procedure the fine artist uses is the same procedureused by any workerin doing a good piece of work. The artisthas obtained his values by organizinghis mediumto produce his intendedresult,the workerhis values in organizinghis material theircommonqualities of workmanship to his end. By recognizing they will both be able to produce better work and derive more satisfactionfromit. It is such a satisfactionthat can be one of the chiefjoys of life. CHARLES A. FRITZ, JR.

BOOK REVIEW New York: Houghton Reliable Knowledge. H. A. LARRABFE. Co. 1945. vii + 685 pp. $3.50. Mifflin ProfessorLarrabee's book is the issue of twentyyears of academic experience,"the last ten of themspent in teachinga course called 'Methods and Problems in the Social Studies,' which is required of all undergraduates in the Division of Social Studies existencein the . . ." at Union College. It has had an embryonic editions. In the Foreword, Larrabee formof two mimeographed salutes his teachers at Harvard and Columbia, especially Dewey. Among his Harvard teachers he mentions C. I. Lewis, but the pragthat mouldsthisbook is not the formalistic Harvard influence matism of Lewis, rather the romantic practicalism of William power of belief and James,with its doctrineof the transforming insight (Hocking's influencealso?), especially on the sympathetic level of social transaction. Tincture such a view with the more spirit of Dewey's naturalism,involve it a little with the scientific incipient subjectivism of "philosophical anthropology" and psy-