Of Standard of Taste
3A IB TOK
“... and each mind perceives a different beauty” (Hume). The discussion of whether or not society is in need of a “Standard of Taste” in regards to art, has been ongoing for centuries.
David Hume’s essay
Of Standard of Taste delves into the necessity of this characteristic. It describes the type of mindset one should have to be a “true” art critic. This is the same idea that one should posses to have a relevant standard of taste. While it is true that art should be able to be viewed and critiqued by everyone, it is questionable as to what extent that critique should be valued. The inanimate object of physical art cannot be elitist. But the idea behind art can. The perception of art being elitist stems from the people who surround it. Art itself was not made to exclude people, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a kind of behaviorism one should have for their criticism to be taken into consideration. This idea doesn’t imply that if one is not educated in art, their opinion should be eliminated. But it does insinuate that one should take how educated and experienced the person is into consideration when considering that person’s consideration.
The term and concept of “standard of taste” automatically gives off a “holier than thou” feeling. A standard of taste is generally defined as a rule or principle that exhibits whose taste is worth knowing about. In order to properly judge art, one must have the opportunity to compare the work with other works. This aspect gives an established type of person the advantage. The modern “common man” simply does not have the time to access the deeper meaning to works of art. If one is not able to access meanings from art, why would it be acceptable to take their judgment legitimately? This type of person, the modern, working man, is not as suited as to judge art as someone who is capable of sitting and reflecting on the works of art.
Along with people not having the time, a large majority of people do not have the stimulation needed to decipher meaning and significance from works of art. Art is thoughtprovoking, stimulating, and difficult to understand. But there are some people who have the ability to reflect and contemplate on abstract concepts. It has been proven that continuous and sustained television watching, specifically programs that do not aid to one’s enlightenment, may result in dulled brain cells. This would produce the repercussion that would result in the lack of being able to examine and analyze different types of expression. So, if someone who sits and watches reality television all day had a crude opinion on what is seen as a beautiful artwork, how credible would that assessment be?
The concept of a standard of taste is mainly and predominantly developed in one’s experiences. So, if person A has been exposed to situations that are considered “higher quality,” then person A is expected to have a more refined standard of taste than person B, who has spent their lives plopped in front on a couch watching mediocre television, never revealing themselves to high culture.
Many people’s tastes are too crude to serve as a valid bases for comparing and judging art. Not everyone is capable of noticing some of the important ideas that are significant to our existence. The ability to decipher and understand art is like wine tasting. Some people are simply more capable of tasting what’s there. If you cannot taste and relish the artwork in a sense where you can perceive what’s in it, then you do not have any justification to make recommendations and proposals on the art.
If we were to apply the idea of a standard of taste to everyday situations, the concept would not be as controversial. For example, you wouldn’t let just anyone perform open heart
surgery on you. You wouldn’t want a haphazardly person diagnosing and