Hume Standard of Taste

Hume Standard of Taste

Explicate and discuss the following passage from David Hume’s essay on taste, and compare his view to Plato’s ideas. Has Hume found the true standard of taste? If not, why not? Bring one artwork from any time or culture into your discussion, for example by imagining two people having a dispute over the value of a painting, dance, photograph, building, or some other artwork of some genre. (Hint: you are most likely to lose points if you neglect one or more of these requests.)

“When the critic has no delicacy, he judges without any distinction, and is only affected by the grosser and more palpable qualities of the object: The finer touches pass unnoticed and disregarded. Where he is not aided by practice, his verdict is attended with confusion and hesitation. Where no comparison has been employed, the most frivolous beauties, such as rather merit the name of defects, are the object of his admiration. Where he lies under the influence of prejudice, all his natural sentiments are perverted. Where good sense is wanting, he is not qualified to discern the beauties of design and reasoning, which are the highest and most excellent. Under some or other of these imperfections, the generality of men labour; and hence a true judge in the finer arts is observed, even during the most polished ages, to be so rare a character: Strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice, can alone entitle critics to this valuable character; and the joint verdict of such, wherever they are to be found, is the true standard of taste and beauty.”


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