Throughout the Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy reading, different philosophers, including Kant, argue for a universality of aesthetic Taste and the sensory taste in regard to educated taste, or delicate Taste. Kant states that “judgments about what is beautiful are matters of importance that transcend the whims of individual perceivers and ought to be matters for adjudication by appeal to principle” (54). So basically, judgments of taste should go beyond the personal and be more formalized and fact based.

Aesthetic Taste and the sensory taste are parallel; each can represent the other. The action of tasting involves registering a sensation as either pleasurable or unpleasurable. Similarly, Taste can involve looking at a painting or sculpture or any piece of art and deeming it either beautiful or not. Both are subjective. According to Korsmeyer, “beauty is an elusive concept… it is impossible to specify what constitutes beauty in general” (41). Taste is the same. It is impossible to define what tastes pleasurable as pleasure is idiosyncratic. Taste can be refined through education to create, as Hume calls it “delicacy of taste” and this education can narrow the subjectivity as individuals can be trained together to appreciate certain universal characteristics of taste and Taste.

However, at the end of the day, taste and Taste are subjective. It is undefinable. Subjectivity cannot be “matters of adjudication.” Kant argues that “judgments of beauty are not only generally agreed upon in fact but, more important, achieve a kind of universality and necessity” (54). But what I do not understand is how can beauty, a characteristic defined only by individual opinions, achieve universality and be agreed upon by facts? It does not seem like it can be done. Kant does acknowledge this subjectivity and states that this universality is for those of “delicate” Taste, but the individuality seems too overpowering. Taste cannot be universal; it defeats the point of having individual Taste.

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  1. Something else I’ve noticed about this subjectivity in taste and even sound is how an individual’s personal preferences change over time as well. What may be considered pleasurable to a person now may seem the complete opposite to the same person in a year’s time. Not only do taste preferences change over time, but because foods alter the taste of other foods, this defining an exact taste seems much too variable to consider it universal.

    In the article found at http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/tdjan2008pg38.shtml, they differentiated two test groups of a Rutgers experiment as children who can taste bitterness and those who couldn’t in certain foods. Meaning, not only can taste be subjective, but genetics can alter the actual perception of some foods. What’s bitter to some may not be bitter to all.

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