Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12: What is Good Taste? (Vol. 24, pp. 11-26)

Edmund Burke was born this day in 1729, and to mark the occasion, here is a reading from his essay, "On Taste."

Burke takes on one of the great imponderables. Taste is clearly a subjective thing. What one person sees as art is what another person might see as trash. Burke defines taste as "no more than that faculty or those faculties of the mind, which are affected with, or form a judgment of, the works of imagination and the elegant arts."

He believes taste belongs to the imagination. It is a function of what he calls "a greater degree of natural sensibility, or from a closer and longer attention to the object." He concludes that sensibility and judgment are central to having taste, and that education is how taste is developed.

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