The Century of Taste

The Century of Taste : The Philosophical Odyssey of Taste in the Eighteenth Century

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The Century of Taste offers an exposition and critical account of the central figures in the early development of the modern philosophy of art: Hutcheson, Gerard, Alison, Kant, and Hume. Dickie follows the development of the modern theory of taste from its origination by Hutcheson, to blind alleys followed by Gerard and Alison, its refinement and complete expression by Hume, and finally to its decline in the hands of Kant. In a straightforward and unpretentious style, Dickie offers sympathetic discussions of the theoretical aims of these philosophers, but does not shy from controversy - for instance, pointing out the obscurities and inconsistencies in Kant's aesthetics writings, which Dickie argues are overrated.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 168 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 9.9mm | 467.79g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195096800
  • 9780195096804
  • 1,068,213

Back cover copy

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the focus of philosophy shifted from objective notions of beauty to the subjective concept of taste. In this book, George Dickie traces the development and decline of this mode of thought, critically evaluating the theoretical aims of five key figures in the theory of taste. Dickie looks at the work of Francis Hutcheson, whose inquiries into the origins of pleasure and displeasure led to the first systematic theory of taste. He offers critical readings of the associationist philosophies of Alexander Gerard and Archibald Allison - which he regards as "blind alleys" into which the theory of taste was diverted. He provides a critical look at Kant, placing his writings in the context of other theories of taste, and within the teleological scheme of his Third Critique. Finally, Dickie concludes with an extended study of Hume's short pamphlet, "Of the Standard of Taste", the epitome of philosophically sophisticated explorations of taste. Of interest to philosophers, aestheticians, and intellectual historians, The Century of Taste offers a clear, straightforward analysis of this crucial period in the development of modern theories of the experience of art and nature.
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Review quote

A Century of Taste adds a significant voice to the contemporary revival of interest in eighteenth-century aesthetics that Dickie himself did so much to stimulate in his exchanges with Jerome Stolnitz. We are in his debt once again. * The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism *
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