From the time of very early human civilization, aesthetic judgments have been subjective, meaning the value of different pieces and forms are may vary from individual to individual. If asked who has a better painting between two famed artists, there is no truly correct answer as there is in mathematical or scientific arguments. Every judgment from every individual is different due to the differentiating cognitive processes in our brains. No two brains are alike and this shows in this field of study.
However, times arise when some subjective opinions seem objectively wrong. For example, if I were to say that Sharknado was a better movie than Infinity War, to many of us who have seen both, it would just seem flat out wrong. Perhaps this is because we give reasoning behind our subjective reasoning. We back it up with why our brains have come to that decision. In one way, individuals cherry pick facts about the work and claim that they are aesthetically relevant. Entire industries have risen over time off of this process. Regardless, there still seems to be a strain between the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” theme and the “reality” of the way individuals judge aesthetics. Immanuel Kant, an 18th-century German philosopher, labeled this tension as: “The Antinomy of Taste.” David Hume however, an 18th-century Scottish enlightenment philosopher, proposed a solution: ask an expert. In his essay, On the Standard of Taste, Hume gave criteria that he believed someone would have to fit to actually be considered an expert. This “expert” would be able to have the final word in any aesthetic dispute. The criteria are as follows.
Delicacy of Taste: Summed up, this criteria means that the individual should be able to see all the details of a piece of art. Take it all in to have a better foundation on which to base his or her judgment. This can be determined by asking the individual questions about the piece of art the others have observed and see if the individual did as well.
Practice: The individual must be experienced in this field of work and have a finely tuned sense of perception, being sight, hearing, touch, etc. In the same way, you would not want a sixteen-year-old racing Formula 1 cars, you would not want someone who is inexperienced in the field of art judging it.
Comparisons: Different takes on the same work of art can be very persuading due to the different views being presented. The more diversely a piece of art is perceived, the more solid conclusions can be made about it.
No Prejudice: This one seems pretty obvious but is still important to note. Having an unbiased mind can clear thoughts and allow greater judgments to be made.
Good Sense: This one seems to be a little bit subjective which is a problem seeing as we are trying to be objective in decisions. Essentially, it is important to be aware of yourself, and be aware of the art is trying to do. For example, you should be very well aware that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is meant to be a tragedy and bring out sadness and despair from the emotions of the audience. What is the theme of the work? What is it trying to get across? What is the underlying message it is trying to convey? Is it trying to teach any lessons about and subjects? These are all things that someone aware would be able to see and pick out from the art. But it can be difficult to truly determine whether or not an individual has freed him or herself from their own strengths and weaknesses.
Hume had some solid means for resolving Kant’s “The Antinomy of Taste” but some still seem to be a little bit subjective, despite our efforts to focus strictly on objectivity. An important thing to keep in mind, however, is that Hume is not straight up coming out and saying that there is only one true objective meaning that only a critic can answer, but more that he was trying to offer a means to essentially judge judgment. Hume still believed in the multiple subjective meanings that each individual can have on a specific piece of art. We just may have reason to accept partial subjective opinions on pieces of art more easily than some other proposed.