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Emotion, Affectation and Theatricality: the Ethics of Hearing as a Matter of Taste

Abstract : Throughout the eighteenth century, under the combined influence of the empiricist philosophers and of the ‘moral sense’ school, the idea emerged that there was perhaps little difference, if any, between feeling and thinking. In the 1760s, it was a common belief that the heart's private feelings were the prime inspirers of man's moral behaviour, that through the pleasurable sensations we derive from our benevolent actions (we feel ‘loved’), we get to understand the (private) advantages to be drawn from an actively virtuous (public) life. The true standard of taste can only be reached by those who remain constantly aware of the perceptive operations of their senses, and reach that ‘fine tuning’ which alone can endow it with any authority. The idea that human existence is very much about the recording and understanding of one’s body’s operations became a central Enlightenment concern. Modern identity (life in the modern world) is therefore very much a matter of Taste, taste of oneself and taste of the world, which requires a heightened awareness of the operations of the senses. This, very much, is what the contributors to the present volume have been working on together for some years, and which their essays in this collection try to address from their different perspectives. They propose a remarkable variety of case studies which examine the way taste and the senses ‘vibrated’ and how they came into resonance during the Enlightenment period.
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Contributor : Pierre Degott <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 3:25:10 PM
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Pierre Degott. Emotion, Affectation and Theatricality: the Ethics of Hearing as a Matter of Taste. Sensing the World: Taste and the Senses in the Eighteenth Century, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, pp.73-92, 2017, 978-3868217032. ⟨hal-02885198⟩

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