A.O. Scott on pragmatism and art

…Among my principal guides are Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Dewey. If there’s an implicit allegiance here, a school of thought in which I might claim membership, it’s some version of pragmatism. That is, I believe that our understanding of art emerges from our experience of it, and that our notions of beauty and value are the result of our arguments about them, rather than the conditions of such arguments. Truth is the lovely echo of our noisy, contending ways of being wrong.

And one big way to be wrong–perhaps one I should have addressed at more length–is to buy into the fantasy of critical authority, to confuse the decidedly democratic power of persuasion with other kinds of power.

“Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth,” A.O. Scott, pg. 275-276

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