By Janet Wolff
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Extra resources for Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art
However, she does not extend her discussion to the point of identifying any ultimate truth in future equal social relations. Here we have again a consensus theory of truth, though without this higher promise such truth is therefore relative. In the philosophy of science too there seems to be a loss of faith in non-relativist criteria of validity. It is difficult to see how the criteria of truth of any science can be guaranteed outside the terms of reference of that science. Tony Bennett discusses this with regard to Althusser, who distinguishes science from ideology.
In the meantime, I conclude this chapter by noting the failure of those other approaches which either collapse aesthetics into the social, or deny the relevance of sociology to the aesthetic, either by being unable to comprehend the sociological project, or by making an exception in the case of art. All of these, I have argued, are illegitimate strategies, and ones which get us no nearer the development of a sociological aesthetics. One of the major difficulties which has emerged so far is the relationship between political or ideological value and what I have been continuing to call 'aesthetic value' .
New works will have greater or lesser aesthetic distance from the horizon of expectations of their readers, in some cases (the example he cites is Madame Bovary) producing such great aesthetic distance that only a few readers know how to understand the work. In the longer term, however, such works may transform reading in general, as well as the literary canon itself. Jauss is prepared to define aesthetic value in terms of these features of reception. The way in which a literary work satisfies, surpasses, disappoints, or disproves the expectations of its first readers in the historical moment of its appearance obviously gives a criterion for the determination of its aesthetic value.
Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art by Janet Wolff