What is Good Taste? (and another bottle of Pinot)

More ruminations from Edible Arts on that difficult, elusive, possibly tragic aesthetic quality called “taste.”

Edible Arts

empty bottlesA few weeks ago I posed the question what is good taste, without making much progress on the topic.

It can’t be merely a sense for what is appropriate given contemporary social conventions because people who are alleged to have good taste, artists and critics for example, often produce unconventional judgments about what is good. Instead, having good taste involves knowing what is truly excellent or of genuine value, which may have little to do with social conventions.

But one of the most popular philosophical theories of taste—the causal theory suggested by David Hume in the 18th Century—also seems inadequate. Hume thought of good taste as the ability, acquired through practice, to detect the features of a painting, piece of music, or wine that cause us to feel pleasure. But no list of features will adequately explain aesthetic judgments. To use winetasting as an example, a wine’s quality involves…

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