The relation of custom to law on the objective side,. Or the relation of an implicit agreement to the publicity of obligation and enforcement, can be examined in other activities that differ from moral feeling, and yet provide arguments for a psychological theory of value in relation to intrinsic process: specifically, taste and manners. … We will see that a refined taste is closer to aesthetic perception, while manners are closer to moral conduct. … Manners are moral actions that are ingrained in tradition, taste is a perceptual appreciation of the quality that owes to a tradition of knowledge and judgment.
Genius does not necessarily revise taste but instills its own works in that which taste condones, or expands ion order to appreciate. The step from taste to innovation is like that from prodigy to genius. One is the perfection of the available, the other, a capacity to extend it.
A democracy of opinion is the shipwreck of taste, for it leads to defining the good as an average of preferences, not a model towards which they should advance. … the judgment relies on pre-processing phases in the original perception. The discrimination of the good and the beautiful that we associate with taste, or its correlates in the field of manners, such as courtesy, tact , and discretion, are implicit judgments of what is better or preferable within a category.
Preference is a felt bias to an object. Taste certifies or justifies the bias. Aesthetic feeling penetrates the object, and preference is a sign of this feeling, whether or not it is supported by justifications.
Generally an aesthetic object can only approach a standard set by another object in the same category. The standard is the ideal for its time, its style, its language etc. In morals, the standard is not extracted from the object or action, but to a varying extent, is exemplified by it. The ideal of ethics is unrealisable. There will always be a gap between the actual and the ideal, between the unknowable motives that drive an action, the feelings that accompany it and conduct in relation to virtuous character or an ideal of moral probity.
Valuation generates desire, which creates worth in ordinary objects. Worth trickles out of desire into the value of an ordinary object. … The emphasis upon feeling in preference accounts for its greater subjectivity, the emphasis on conceptuality accounts for the grater objectivity of taste.
The more emphatic the conceptuality, the more detached the emotional response.
In the fact that taste, not preference, can be disputed, the worth of the object is similar to the value of moral objects, since values can also be controverted. Worth becomes an object of choice in aesthetics when a perceptual judgment is required, and an object of choice in ethics when what is required is a judgment leading to or justifying an action.
An evaluation entails a comparison, but not precisely between objects, rather, within their common infrastructure. The infrastructure then actualises the objects to evoke the sensibility of the comparison. The judgment then, is not an addition to the object but a revival of content bypassed in the immediate perception. … Taste is a derivative of the initial perception that objectifies value in relation to knowledge articulated by learning in a specific domain of experience.
In aesthetic discernment, there is also an intentionality that informs an objectified judgment of what is better or more beautiful, or what should be desired, which is then endorsed by taste.
The determination that a certain individual is exceptional, or deserves unusual respect or deference, or merits reward for unusual skill, beauty etc., is compatible with taste in the comparison of the instance to the class, but it does not satisfy the criteria that would extend taste to ethics.
Taste and manners are not motivated by judgments, which are outcomes, but by their conceptual and affective precursors. Judgments are constraints on the refinement of other peoples sense of taste, but for the subject they are expressive features, not higher order assessments
What matters is not the surface product – the preference, the taste – but the context, knowledge and intention behind it.
A naturalist theory of the good holds that the object of the good is part of the act directed to it, i.e. the good act is continuous with, and ingredient in, the agent.
Taste can become a judgment that bridges into law or obligation. … The “political correctness” of a work of art can be imposed by force upon the artist, by threat or insinuation, or it can affect the artist more subtly in the attitudes of the artistic and intellectual community.
Art and life are in constant flux, and aesthetic (and moral) values are called into question when the lack of a precedent is an intimidating factor that prevents the taking of a strong aesthetic stance.
Good taste, good manners and good conduct are variations on a theme of goodness from the aesthetic to the moral. The value that promulgates taste is cultivated, in morals it is imbibed. The authoritative in taste – what is ‘great’ in art or literature – is comparable to the dictates of custom – what is right in conduct – in that a person is taught how to perceive or act.
In seeking links from taste to aesthetics from manners to morals, or from taste to manners, a subtle difference in emphasis can decide the category of a given act of cognition. This may be a bias to action or perception, to context and generality on the one hand, selectivity on the other. One may incline to privacy or publicity, to aesthetic or moral values, to the creative or receptive, to the perfection of the timeless or the corruption of the temporal, to the inorganic or to the living. Thus custom drives conduct in many aspects of moral and non-moral life.
Unlike the refinement of taste, as a sub-class of aesthetics, or an elegance of manners, as a sub-class of ethics, goodness and beauty are often closer to simplicity. … The consensus of taste is the validation of individual preference by those who “know what is best”. This is not the other-centeredness of goodness. It is a reliance on the opinion of a select group of others, not a concern for their welfare.
Manners are incidental to moral choices because they are benign expressions of character, and irrelevant to the particulars of a given choice. The fact that manners so readily dissociate from character suggests that, as far as virtue is concerned, they are not ingredients but accoutrements. … Ideally, they should be fluid tributaries that flow from the depths of character, little morals that become fixed in rules of gracious conduct.
Sincerity is a measure of the authenticity of moral conduct, while in taste, we accept that it is more indicative of personality and not a sign of character.
In shame, dishonour, humiliation, ridicule, the conscious self suffers an injury in relation to its ideal. The offense is internalised as a powerful refutation of a positive self-valuation. The damage to self-esteem is a ‘negative; value that must be ‘excised’ for the self to heal. The extent of damage to the self concept depends on the importance or value of the other in the life of the injured party.
… as taste represents aesthetic categories in relation to preferences as affective habits, so manners represent categories of ethical conduct fixed in routines. And as taste extends the bounds of aesthetics to all object classes, including scientific objects, so do manners extend the bounds of ethical conduct into rituals of little moral interest.
The points below are vital to bear in mind as they apply specifically to the situation in which so many of our peers find themselves – this is the version of manifest reality with which we currently have to contend.