Why should we cultivate taste?
answers from Kant's early and late aesthetic theory
Kant believes that taste is a talent for judging an object's beauty based on a distinctive feeling of pleasure or displeasure. Like any talent, we can cultivate taste through practice and education, or we can allow it to languish. Because we all have many talents and only so much time and energy, choosing to cultivate one will necessarily involve neglecting some others. Why then should we cultivate taste? Kant concludes his early work on taste, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, with the hope that "not all delicacy — judging with more or less taste what goes on outside us — should amount merely to fleeting and idle amusement" (OBS 2:255, my translation). In other words, judging on the basis of taste is not simply a pleasant diversion from more important concerns. We should cultivate our taste because it is a power of judgment we need to live well.
Watkins, B. (2014)., Why should we cultivate taste?: answers from Kant's early and late aesthetic theory, in M. C. Altman (ed.), The Palgrave handbook of German idealism, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 126-143.
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