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Hume on Taste Hume's account of judgments of taste parallels his discussion of judgments or moral right and wrong.  Both accounts use the internal/external.

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Presentation on theme: "Hume on Taste Hume's account of judgments of taste parallels his discussion of judgments or moral right and wrong.  Both accounts use the internal/external."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hume on Taste Hume's account of judgments of taste parallels his discussion of judgments or moral right and wrong.  Both accounts use the internal/external distinction: external facts -- internal "sentiment" [behavior/feeling]  In both cases the "error" in judgment will be in the analysis of the external facts.  Judgments of taste will be objective in part because the judgments of "objects of taste" are "question of fact, not sentiment."  Therefore it's of some use to look at Hume's views of causation and morality. on to morality!

2 David Hume Morality and "Sentiment" HUME begins with "natural philosophy" [which is an empirical, experimental method of inquiry] He holds that nothing is present to the mind except its PERCEPTIONS.  PERCEPTIONS are either sense impressions, or ideas based on sense impressions.  "knowledge" consists in judgments about either "matters of fact" or "relations between ideas"

3 Traditional View of Causation [NOT Hume’s] We extend the usefulness of the factual information that comes from the senses by making inferences based on a belief in "cause and effect“ The traditional view of causation has three elements.  In addition to the cause and its effect there is a third element: a necessary, real relation between the cause and the effect that is contributed by reason

4 Hume on "Causation" Hume believes the traditional view confuses a mental habit with an "alleged real relation“ For Hume causation is rooted in belief.  A "belief" is a lively idea associated with a present impression.  We see cause A and effect B in "constant conjunction", so we believe that B always follows A.  There is no additional "necessary relation" independent of our senses and our ideas.

5 "Causation" and Morality I How are causal explanations of moral issues and matters of fact related? First: They are similar  "Helping the injured is good" and "Acid causes litmus paper to turn red" are contingent, not necessary truths  All matters of fact are contingently true. This means they could be otherwise. Note: "necessary truths" are those that are true independent of experience. [e.g.. Plato's forms]

6 "Causation" and Morality II Second: They are different  The "causal connection" is based on the conjunction of two external events.  A moral assertion is based on an external behavioral event and an internal mental event.  That is -- voluntary actions and feelings of approval/disapproval

7 "Causation" and Morality III Third: They are comparable.  We are psychologically "tuned" to attribute a moral quality to an action that is experienced in "constant conjunction" with a feeling of approval or disapproval.  If we are presented with the same data we will tend to respond in a similar manner.

8 Source of Morality Does morality "reside" with our ability to reason. Or our ability to feel?  Some argue that moral distinctions are found through the use of reason alone.  Others argue that reason cannot draw moral conclusions; that virtue and vice are a matter of "sentiment." Hume believes that making moral judgments involves both.

9 Yet Sentiment Is the Ultimate Source of Morality According to Hume the function of morality is to teach us our duty. [that is what we should DO.] Hume argues that reason can have no effect on our behavior.  He says that reason has no power over our feelings.  And, thus, no influence over our behavior. Without "sentiment" morality is not a "practical study."

10 What constitutes the WRONGNESS of an Act? Hume parallels his critique of the traditional view of causation. He argues that the "wrong-ness" of an action is neither  a matter of fact : "where is the matter of fact we call a crime?"  nor a moral relation discovered by reason: morality doesn't consist in the relation of its parts. The “wrong-ness” comes from the feeling of approval or disapproval towards an action.

11 Sentiment is the Source of Morality Hume states that VIRTUE is those mental actions that give the viewer the "pleasing sentiment of approbation.“ The role for reason in morality is to ascertain the facts and relations of the situation.  How does this differ from the use of reason in non-moral matters? In moral reasoning we must know all the objects and relations before we make our moral judgment.  The difference between a mistake of fact and a mistake of right: Oedipus vs. Nero.

12 Source of our "passions"? Hume's MORAL THEORY rests on some of our "sentiments" originating outside our personal concerns. [This is necessary for him to avoid relativism] He argues that "the notion of morals implies some sentiment common to all mankind."  a universal sentiment that is different than desire/aversion, affection/hatred etc…  And that as long as humans have the same elements as now, we will never be indifferent to the public good. back to TASTE!

13 Hume’s Discussion of “Taste” A “standard of taste” will be “a rule by which the various sentiments of men may be reconciled” #6 [See #3 for discussion of reason & language] This standard is not a priori. #9 [a priori = prior to or apart from experience]  Not an unchanging abstraction based in reason.  Based on experience and the observation of the common sentiments of human nature.  From these observations and experiences we discover some general principles of praise and blame. #11- 12 Since the sentiment is certain, the error will be with perception: “defects” in the internal organs.

14 Hume's 5 reasons judgments of taste may go wrong 1. We may lack delicacy of imagination. #14 2. We may lack practice in [experience of] a particular art. #18 3. We may lack experience in making comparisons "between the several species and degrees of excellence and estimating their proportion to each other.“ #20 4. We must reserve our mind free from all prejudice -- considering only the object #21 5. We may lack good sense. #22

15 Role of sense organs in judgments of taste What about the relationship Hume states as existing between defects in the sense organs and defects in aesthetic judgment? #12-13  What problems do these defects create for a judgment of value in art?  Does this make sense to you?

16 Two questions for you! 1. Hume believes that all general rules of art are based on experience, not on a priori reasoning. #9 -- is this consistent with your experience of art? 2. Hume believes that the greatest works of art are “universal” -- i. e. appreciated in all times and places. #23 -- is this consistent with your own experiences of art? -- can you think of examples that support Hume’s view? That don’t support his view?

17 Preview Comparison: Kant/Hume on “taste” Hume: taste is a matter of perception relation between perception and judging the general rules of art are founded on experience Kant:- argues that taste is indifferent to what is pleasure As you read Kant ask yourselves why? Hints: Relationship to the “agreeable”-- “finality of form” -- based on pure ideas Question to consider: What is the relationship between perception & pleasure?

18 Kant/Hume Can we reduce aesthetics to a singularly intellectual analysis?. "A pure judgment of taste has, then, for its determining ground neither charm nor emotion, in a word, no sensation as a matter of the aesthetics judgment." Kant SS 16. How might Hume respond? Why isn’t taste [and thus aesthetics ] a matter for our cognitive capacity according to Hume?

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