Hume’s Aesthetic Standard


In his famous essay “Of the Standard of Taste,” Hume seeks to reconcile two conflicting intuitions—the intuition that there is a great variety of taste, on the one hand, and the intuition that there is an artistic standard based on taste that has stood the test of time, on the other—by appealing to the joint verdict of his “true judges” or “ideal critics.” But Hume’s critics have themselves been the objects of criticism as not providing an adequate basis on which to establish a normative aesthetic standard based on taste. In this paper, I defend an interpretation of Hume’s ideal critics as akin to judges in certain common law traditions, and I argue that Hume does satisfactorily resolve conflicting intuitions about the nature of taste.