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Embodied Aesthetics

Embodied Aesthetics

(p.161) Conclusion Embodied Aesthetics
Aesthetic Science
Alexander Wragge-Morley
University of Chicago Press

The conclusion calls for a new approach to the history of the empirical sciences in the 17th and 18th centuries. For a long time, the practices associated with the cultivation of taste—whether understood as the kind of taste associated with food or that linked to aesthetic judgment—have been excluded from the history of empiricism. This exclusion has taken place because of a failure to recognize that today’s distinctions between the domain of taste—seen as an attempt to produce intersubjective agreement—and the domain of objectivity did not hold true in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The conclusion therefore proposes that paying more attention to the embodied practices concerned with the cultivation of taste may enable us to rethink the role of taste and aesthetics in the history of the empirical sciences. Finally, the conclusion discusses the hitherto unacknowledged role of nervous pathology in Jonathan Richardson’s Two Discourses on connoisseurship, an influential work of art criticism published in 1719. This example suggests that medical concerns about the body's responses to sensory experience may have had a far more important role in 18th-century aesthetics and art criticism than has yet been understood.

Keywords:   Jonathan Richardson, John Locke, intersubjectivity, aesthetics, taste, empiricism, pathology, health, Immanuel Kant, experience

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