Measuring Up – Is Greatness An Absolute?

Terry Teachout ponders Charles Murray’s attempts to statistically analyze “greatness.” “The question of whether or not it is possible to demonstrate objectively the existence of absolute standards of aesthetic quality will probably always remain open. That such absolute standards do exist, however, seems to me indisputable. No matter how aggressively postmodern thinkers may deny the significance of the consensus of judgment—or the overwhelming dominance of Western culture—the whole of human history and experience is arrayed against them. It cannot be coincidental that, as Clement Greenberg observed, ‘the people who try hardest and look hardest end up, over the ages, by agreeing with one another in the main’.”