ABOUT THIS BOOK
Musing in Florence in June of 1858, Nathaniel Hawthorne said of himself, "I am sensible that a process is going on—and has been, ever since I came to Italy—that puts me in a state to see pictures with less toil, and more pleasure, and makes me more fastidious, yet more sensible of beauty where I saw none before."
This is a book devoted to the reflective analysis of the enterprise in which many of us, like Hawthorne, find ourselves engaged: the cultivation of our taste. Charles Wegener writes for and from the standpoint of thoughtful amateurs, those who, loving the beautiful and the sublime, wish to become more fully the sort of person to whom these goods reliably disclose themselves. Here traditional aesthetic analysis is redirected to a search for the norms that tell us how we use our intelligence, our imagination, and our senses in becoming "more fastidious, yet more sensible," exploring such concepts as disinterestedness, catholicity, communicability, austerity, objectivity, and authority.
Finally, Wegener discusses questions about the relation of our aesthetic lives to other activities, norms, and human goods, arguing that taste, far from being a mere grace or luxury, is a necessary expression of that freedom which is at once the fruit and the condition of all culture.
"This book should be required reading for anyone concerned with aesthetic education, for this is exactly what it is about, and I have come across no more searching investigation of the topic."—Hugo Meynell, Journal of Aesthetic Education
"Using the analysis of aesthetic experience found in Kant's Critique of Judgment as a point of departure, Wegener has written a remarkably intelligent book which presents meaningful encounter with art as the "discipline of taste and feeling. The book reads not simply as an exposition but as a conversation in which the author thoughtfully and meticulously explores with the reader those norms that structure and define aesthetic experience. . . . The book occupies an important place in contemporary aesthetic discussion."—M. Feder-Marcus, Choice