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David Hume is an important British empiricist and philosopher who believed human knowledge comes from their experience. Hume’s theories attracted attention in the twentieth century. In 1976, Peter Jones, in reassessing Hume’s aesthetics, describes the essay “Of the Standard of Taste” as underrated. He then praises it as complex and subtle. I was struck by features that seemed structural weaknesses, inconsistencies and contradiction in Hume’s argument.
In the story from Don Quixote, Hume introduced it as part of his definition of taste delicacy. There are judgments on taste with some aspects tending towards acceptance universally making taste partially relative. There can be rules that can give standard of tastes. These are discovered from experience since they are general views about what has been pleasing universally. However, the rules are not final. They can be disobeyed and an art work natured by disobeying since it is not enacting the rules but is a delicacy of tastes that identifies merit (Jones, 1976).
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From Don Quixote, the two judges praised the wine as good. One of them judged the wine slightly metallic while the other sensed leather in the wine. Their judgments were blamed of pretense, but they were justified when a leather thong on a key was found in the vat (British Society of Aesthetics & Oxford University Press, 1960).
There were critical difference between Hume’s version and the original tale. For example, Hume said the two judges deliberated on their views on the wine before concluding it was good, apart from the slight taste of iron and leather, Cervantes says the first judge tasted with the tongue tip while the second sniffed and never tasted the wine. Additionally, Hume said both judges were ridiculed because of their judgment, but this is not mentioned in the original tale. Furthermore, Hume refers to effect of taint of iron as an old key, while Cervantes describes it aslittle (Smith, 1967).
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While originally the interest is sensitivity of taste at Sancho’s kinsmen for their sake, Hume’s emphasize on the relation of their taste to that of other people. He made the wine tasting procedure normal and gave a prominence to other people’s reaction. He toned down the fabulous aspect of the tale, and made it less extraordinary and a better starting point to generalize taste, and explicit conflict of opinion on the wine. Hume used the story to relate the challenge of aesthetic judgment and standards of taste in addition to defining taste delicacy. This was seen when he applied that example. To start with, he used the analogy between aesthetic and physical taste to assert that in both delicacies consisted of the ability to realize little effects and discriminate finely. The issue is what serves as the key on the thong in the tale, to convince others that a person’s aesthetic judgment is more delicate compared to his or her neighbors’. Hume talked of the general rule of beauty to give the rules or avowed order of composition as finding the key on the leather thong that proved the judgment of the Sancho’s kinsmen, and amazed pretentious judges who condemned them (Hume & In Lenz, 1965). Giving the general rule was not comparable to finding a physical key on the leather thong. Hume used the word avowed. This raised difficulty of how art principles can be accepted and by whom. Avowed principle with supporting examples critic Hume for his judgment failed to align with the general judgment. This contrast Sancho’s story, where the kinsmen were in a derided, minority Hume’s added, by the majority, and only vindicated by finding of the key and the thong. The aesthetic key and thong equivalent was not used to confirm the discerning criticism but hold a defined opinion. Although there might be a good use of the rule of art, where the critic appealed to a universal principle tto hold his view, the consequences of the ruling would not be different and would imply the subordination of individual to general reaction. Hume’s case, the suppression of deviant view, showed this clearly. The bad critic is guilty of idiosyncrasy, when this was known he recanted his divergence from the general rule. The general rule operated against delicacy of taste, as that meant individual variation on sensitivity, and sought to inflict uniformity (Townsend, 2000).
Hume’s attempt to expound on taste of delicacy of was limited by the thing it was meant to prove its existence. However, there was nowhere Hume directly expressed that consequence. One is left doubting his depth in knowledge of it, or the passage should be looked at ironically, or its meaning unstated. There were clues in the word avowed begging the question, or in the plain way the general rules are comparable to the key and the thong (University of Chicago & Hume, 1961).
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The conventional expansion on definition of good critic having delicacy of taste, well practiced, adept in comparisons, free from prejudice and of good sense. Here irony would lie on the accumulation of the demands, so Hume concluded saying that though the principle of taste is universal and almost same in all people, although few qualify to judge on works of art, or come up with their own sentiments as the standard of beauty. One’s confidence is undermined by the statement that a true judge in fine art is seen, even in many polished ages, to be so uncommon a person. Hume asserted that the joint verdict of such, regardless of where they are found, is the real standard of beauty and taste.
Hume looked at acceptance of deformity and beauty saying judgments arise from feelings and not opinion or fact. There is notion that tastes differs since it is how one feels about something. That is if something feels beautiful to someone, then that thing is beautiful to him or her (Dickie, 1996).
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