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Sorin Sabou

Letter to the Romans, Nicomachean Ethics, and more

Hume on Objective and Subjective Taste

D. Hume works with the distinction between matters of fact and pronouncements of sentiment. The standards of taste should provide rules for ‘confirming one sentiment, and condemning another.’ Hume envisions the standard of taste as the consensus of true critics.
Different set of critics will be used for different types of art. The core of evaluation is at the level of sentiment. In dealing with disagreements Hume distinguishes them as some that are blameless, and other that are prejudices. There are two sources that contribute to differences of sentiment among qualified critics: basic disposition of character, and moral differences arising from cultural differences. (Also we need to say that each kind of object has its own species of beauty.)
Each work of art will be evaluated according to its purpose. The moral judgments are an ingredient of this evaluation. There will be no clear lines/distinctions between moral taste and aesthetic taste.
According to Hume there are two basic types of taste: vulgar and refined. The first one is idiosyncratic and capricious, and the second one is properly ruled and stable. This distinction of vulgar and refined is taken from his differentiation between vulgar and wise (kind of thinkings). The vulgar thinking will be dominated by the first influence of general rules upon the mind, and the wise will take care to survey the broadest possible range of experience. Accordingly, the vulgar taste will be capricious and prejudiced, and the refined taste will be stable displaying a certain point of view appropriate to its subject.
The taste is improved over time through practice and comparison. Through practice the subject will be aware of disruptive impressions, or missing impression; this will lead to a more reflective review of the whole analysis.

Gracyk, Ted, "Hume's Aesthetics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
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