Rachel Zuckert: "Thomas Reid’s Disjunctive (Realist) Aesthetics"

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Rachel Zuckert, Northwestern University: "Thomas Reid’s Disjunctive (Realist) Aesthetics"

I discuss Thomas Reid’s ‘Essay on Taste’ (1785), focusing on an unusual feature in his (already unusual, realist) aesthetics: his claim that there are two different ‘senses’ of taste, 'instinctive' and 'rational'. I argue that Reid attempts thereby to characterize the anticipatory/progressive phenomenology of aesthetic appreciation (emphasized more recently by Alexander Nehamas). I suggest also that the disjunctive character of his theory is, more broadly, provocative and productive: it reflects the complexity of aesthetic appreciation, as combining inward- and outward-oriented valuation, and thus potentially as taking significantly different combinatorial forms.