Abstract

This article submits the idea that, beyond traditional readings of the essay, Hume’s "Of the Standard of Taste" is an intimation to appreciate the fictional nature of the standard of taste and our aesthetic education thereof. It is argued that, with Hume, art is not for the benefit and enjoyment of the individual. One’s private response to beauty is only the starting point in our aesthetic appreciation and it is by far the less insightful. The interesting part comes after this one has been sketched and tells of the public experience of art. The self in Hume is so embedded in the social that one’s feeling of beauty, as any other sentiment, cannot rest in itself but longs for social expression and recognition. As long as we reach a general agreement on art, what Hume calls "conversation," beauty is whatever gains the "title" to such a name. As it is impossible for us to go on in life while believing in fragmented objects, in a fragmented self, in a world in which effects have no causes, a standard of taste is the "fiction" we need in the realm of criticism. Beauty is the result of a social constitution.

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