Read another response by Stephen Maitzen
Read another response about Music
In reply to a recent question about whether aesthetic judgments are reliable Stephen Maitzen wrote http://www.askphilosophers.org/question/5097 "(1) We often seem to make objective aesthetic judgments, such as the judgments concerning Bach and Rihanna that you mentioned in your question; why not take those judgments at face value? Why think we have to interpret those judgments as non-objective?" Often we (or some of us) feel that the aesthetic value of a work derives from an ontological sense that the music represents, expresses or even manifests a higher reality. We don't take Rhianna very seriously as a great artist because her music doesn't seem to convey anything of profound importance. We can feel that way even if we happen to enjoy her music a lot. If we listen to Suite Number 3 in D Major by Bach we might feel that the music conveys something grand but we can't say for certain what. It's that lack of certainty about what is conveyed by the music that I think makes people question the validity of such aesthetic judgments. If I didn't have a certain amount of faith or wonder about Bach's Suite I would honestly think that Rhianna might be a comparably great artist or if not Rhianna some other pop artist without any metaphysical pretensions. So isnt saying that we can rely on these aesthetic judgments therefor tantamount to saying that we can trust the ontological ideas that accompanies those aesthetic judgements?