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Aesthetics - the issue of the possible existence of a standard or logic of taste.

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Introduction

Alex Winthrop Philosophy Stephen Rawls 6 January 2006 Aesthetics Burke follows in the empirical tradition of Locke. He believes that all human knowledge comes out of impressions or sense experiences. We then take these simple bits of knowledge and combine them to form more intricate ideas. Our imagination is limited to use of the knowledge we extract from our impressions and are, therefore, incapable of creating anything completely new. He says that our imagination either portrays pleasing images again in the order we experienced them or reorders and combines these images of our experiences. Burke offers that humans receive pleasure from resemblances. Accurate imitations stimulate our minds. Burke's goal and main concern is the issue of the possible existence of a standard or logic of taste. Burke is searching for certain principles that affect our imaginations in such a common and certain way that they could be a basis for "the means of reasoning satisfactorily about them"1. ...read more.

Middle

These divergences from the natural pleasures and pains are a result of custom. They do not uphold the argument for diversity of taste, but rather call for a differentiation between Natural and Acquired taste. A man grows to prefer the taste of tobacco to that of sugar by conditioning his palate from habit. It is a synthetic preference, however, and the man still understands that tobacco is not sweet and sugar is sweet. Also if a man finds sugar to be sour we do not say that his taste is different, instead we say that his taste is not functioning correctly. Burke writes that when talking about acquired taste one must consider the surrounding factors such as the specific habits and prejudices of a particular person. These customs and intolerances do not oppose the "agreement" of mankind, but rather mask it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Natural pleasures are still preferred to unaccustomed substances that induce agreeable effects. Someone who has grown to prefer opium to sugar would still prefer the taste of sugar to a drug that they do not have a habit with. There is a standard of pleasure of the senses in all humans. Burke explains imagination as our greatest source of pleasure and of pain. Since imagination is based on the senses then it too must have universal agreement among all men. The mind is much more disposed to picking up on resemblances than to finding differences in what we observe. Our imaginations are incapable of creating anything absolutely new so we must expand our "stock" through experience, and in resemblances we are able to find new images. We unite and accumulate and move forward with our feelings with likenesses rather then difference which cannot be placed. 1 ?? ?? ?? ?? Winthrop 1 ...read more.

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