The essay introduces the problem of aesthetic unreliability, the variety of ways in which it is difficult to grasp our aesthetic experience and the consequent confusion and unreliability of what we take as our taste.
The theory of taste faces a neglected epistemological problem. The cultivation of taste is functionally dependent upon self-knowledge of aesthetic satisfaction and its causes, in other words, knowing what we like and why. However, reservations about the reliability of our knowledge of our responses, commonplace in social psychology and the philosophy of mind, pose serious obstacles to the theory of taste. I argue for a weak fallibilism with respect to introspective beliefs about aesthetic experience. I call for a naturalistic approach (...) to the theory of taste that accounts for the unreliability of aesthetic self-knowledge. (shrink)
Acquired taste is an integral part of the cultivation of taste. In this essay, I identify acquired taste as a form of intentional belief acquisition or adaptive preference formation, distinguishing it from ordinary or discovered taste. This account of acquired taste allows for the role of self-deception in the development of taste. I discuss the value of acquired taste in the overall development of taste as well as the ways that an over-reliance on acquired taste can distort overall taste.