But we can have a conversation about whether it does something well or poorly which is where the analogy lies. There is a standard.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Michael, I firmly believe that there is a standard for these things. I don't think it exists within us or comes from us, but I think we are naturally aware of it. Both of these I think can, basically, be demonstrated. The first point, that it does not exist within us or by us is clear because we're not sure what the standard is, see discussions like the one we're having. The second, that it exists, I think is equally apparent, eyeless lobular deep-sea fish are not beautiful, song birds are beautiful. We automatically know this. Sometimes we're not sure why and so we question it and fight it, but it's a natural feeling.
These two points explain why we can look at a child's drawing and at Claude Monet (I'm stuck on Monet for some reason) and tell the difference but why we have such a hard time comparing Claude Monet and Edward Degas. We know there is a standard and it's obvious at extremes, but because we don't know the standard well there is a huge gray area. Will the gray area ever go away? We can study and improve our understanding, certainly, but the standard won't ever be fully knowable because its source is not fully knowable.
The fact is, though, that there is a standard. It's multi-faceted and complex, but Ansel Adams and Sebastio Salgado are not good artists because they randomly and subjectively triggered someone's gut feeling (though they may be popular for that reason), they are good artists because they make good art. Without a standard that doesn't make any sense.