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Two Thumbs UpHow Critics Aid Appreciation$
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Stephanie Ross

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226064284

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226705033.001.0001

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Taste and Preference

Taste and Preference

(p.8) 1. Taste and Preference
Two Thumbs Up

Stephanie Ross

University of Chicago Press

Gustatory taste is the literal counterpart to taste in art. In this chapter I ask whether gustatory taste might serve as a model as well. That is, is gustatory taste improvable, malleable, non-fungible in a way that illuminates our interactions with works of art? I offer up as an example my intractable loathing of bleu cheese, a prized delicacy, and compare and contrast it with the lack of venturesomeness with which children greet new foods, on the one hand, and the salutary effects of oenophiles’ expansive descriptive vocabulary, on the other. My initial guide through this territory is Carolyn Korsmeyer, whose 1999 book Making Sense of Taste argues for the objectivity of taste while documenting ways that Western philosophy has depreciated the bodily senses of taste and smell. I also sample current scientific accounts of gustatory taste and examine some of the competing claims defended at a 2004 conference on philosophy and wine. In closing I consider two opposing worries that arise regarding reliance on critical advice: concerns about leveling and concerns about elitism. I present the “most preferred painting” piece (or prank!) by the performance artists Komar and Melamid as a reductio of the leveling approach to critical assessment.

Keywords:   gustatory taste, hierarchy of the senses, oenophilia, leveling, elitism

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