In the following essay I will discuss whether it is possible for judgements of the aesthetic quality of works of art to be always merely personal; and what are the circumstances in which they are not personal. I will demonstrate what the necessary conditions are for an aesthetic judgement to be made accurately. I would, therefore, suggest that if aesthetics of the judgements of taste are merely personal, then these judgements would be improper, therefore proper judgements of taste are not personal. There are several arguments to support my thesis. In the first part of the essay, I examine Hume’s argument on establishing a ‘Standard’ of taste. In the second part of this essay, I look at the valuable interpretation of judgments of beauty
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So what Hume is trying to do, by eliminating obstacles to properly make judgements of taste, is to draw a distinction between aesthetic appreciation and a judgement of taste. He makes a distinction between having a purely personal preference and making a judgement of taste which has some more general claim to validity. Thus, feelings and emotions are not corrigible – they are purely personal, they are not like judgements and cannot be right or wrong. What Hume is trying to show is that sentiments are not a reliable ground for making a judgement as personal likings and dislikes cannot be doubted – ‘All sentiment is right; because sentiment has a reference to nothing beyond itself, and is always real, wherever a man is conscious of it.’ In order for the judgement of taste, that has been made, to be proper, there must be nothing wrong in the way one’s sentiments have been directed towards it.
Hume’s strategy is essentially negative and what he tries to look at are the obstacles to making a correct judgement of taste. Even supposing general rules of taste “had never been methodized” , their existence supports the view that they improve taste: “Strong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice, can alone entitle critics to this valuable character” . One should view the artwork with “A perfect serenity of mind, a recollection of