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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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Hume on the Standard of Taste

Hume on the Standard of Taste

(p.61) 3. Hume on the Standard of Taste
Two Thumbs Up

Stephanie Ross

University of Chicago Press

This chapter is devoted to a presentation and critique of Hume’s classic 1757 essay “Of the Standard of Taste.” My goal is to develop a neo-Humean account of aesthetic appreciation. After touching on the warring intuitions with which Hume begins—the first positing rampant subjectivity, the second shared standards—I turn to his discussion of the proper conditions for aesthetic judgment. His account of external hindrances and internal disorders, both of which can disturb the capacity for correct judgment, eventuates in a passage setting out conditions for appreciation that still ring true today. I next present Hume’s portrait of ideal critics with its specification of their five essential traits—delicacy of imagination, practice, comparison, good sense, and freedom from prejudice. Hume’s approach provides an invaluable foundation for defending any notion of objective aesthetic judgment as well as for describing the workings of critical advice. I argue that two additional traits, imaginative fluency and emotional responsiveness, must be added to his account to suit it to the 20th- and 21st-century artworlds. In closing, I introduce two remaining problems that still need to be addressed: the role of the test of time, and the notion of blameless differences.

Keywords:   Hume, ideal critics, test of time, blameless difference, critical advice

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