Retracing the History of the Concept of Taste
By claiming that individuals are reflexive about the social shaping of aesthetic preferences, Hennion’s pragmatic approach challenges Bourdieu’s core assumption about the overdetermination of taste and suggests that people have agency over the social forces that shape their dispositions. Taste activities are not naked face-to-face meetings between reflexive individuals and objects. Rather, taste is an equipped and situated activity involving material and contextual mediations. Although natural objects are the archetypes of beauty, Kant claims that they are not the only pure objects of beauty. Cultural objects can exhibit pure beauty too, on the condition that the aesthetic judgement of these cultural objects is not contingent on their end purpose, such as shelter and nourishment. The link between every human being and society cannot be restricted to a mere natural need for sociability. Hennion constructed the pragmatics of taste against Bourdieu’s theories, which in turn were built in opposition to Kantian aesthetics.