Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||I defend traditional aesthetics against sociological criticism. I argue that ª historicistº approaches (a) are not supported by arguments and (b) are intrinsically implausible. Hence the traditional ahistorical philosophical approach to the judgment of taste is justified. Many Marxist, feminist and postmodernist writers either eliminate aesthetic value or reduce it to their favourite political value. Others say that they merely want to give a historical explanation of the culturally local phenomenon of thinking in terms of the aesthetic. As a preliminary, I point out that the conception of the aesthetic these theorists operate with is a straw man. In particular, Kant would have rejected it. I then point out that the empirical evidence does not support their historicist views. Most sociological theorists adduce no evidence, thinking their view obviously correct. Where evidence is adduced (e.g. by Bourdieu), the evidence has little connection with their general historicist conclusions. Lastly, I put pressure on the historicist view, first by appealing to the enormity of the error attributed to ordinary people, and second by appealing to the inevitability of pragmatic inconsistency by those who assert the view. I conclude that traditional philosophical aesthetics was right to be ahistorical.|
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