Hume, Kant and the Standard of Taste
DISCUSSIONS OF KANT'S AESTHETICS coming from the Englishspeaking world will start with a preliminary section on Hume. The implication is that whether or not Kant had read his predecessor's reflections on taste, he has the same targets in view as Hume and generally makes more of an impact on them. When one reaches the details of this programme, things are less clear, for it turns out to be quite hard to say how Hume and Kant differ when they are read as concentrating attention on the analysis of the claim that this or that is beautiful, elegant or whatever. Uniformity of sentiment among Hume's true judges and ideal universal delight among Kantian critics amount to much the same thing, and it is entirely uncertain how much of the remainder of Kant's analysis (issues of necessity and purposiveness, that is) are not either already accommodated within Hume's more discursive way of talking, or else better simply forgotten.
This, I think, is a fruitless and mistaken way of viewing the relationship between the two philosophers. They are largely concerned with different issues, and what is of moment to the one is only marginal to the other. Consequently, we do better to see them as complementing each other rather than competing. In the previous chapter, I stressed how Kant thinks that truth-directed arguments are in place in aesthetic discourse whereas cut-and-dried disputes are not. What is notable about arguments is that they are often so very difficult to settle, and that they advance in dialectical fashion, something about which Kant has very little to say. I would like to suggest that the most