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Korsmeyer, Carolyn, , . Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy
1999, Cornell University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Taste, perhaps the most intimate of the five senses, has traditionally been considered beneath the concern of philosophy, too bound to the body, too personal and idiosyncratic. Yet, in addition to providing physical pleasure, eating and drinking bear symbolic and aesthetic value in human experience, and they continually inspire writers and artists.In Making Sense of Taste, Carolyn Korsmeyer explains how taste came to occupy so low a place in the hierarchy of senses and why it is deserving of greater philosophical respect and attention. Korsmeyer begins with the Greek thinkers who classified taste as an inferior, bodily sense; she then traces the parallels between notions of aesthetic and gustatory taste that were explored in the formation of modern aesthetic theories. She presents scientific views of how taste actually works and identifies multiple components of taste experiences.
Turning to taste’s objects?food and drink?she looks at the different meanings they convey in art and literature as well as in ordinary human life and proposes an approach to the aesthetic value of taste that recognizes the representational and expressive roles of food. Korsmeyer’s consideration of art encompasses works that employ food in contexts sacred and profane, that seek to whet the appetite and to keep it at bay; her selection of literary vignettes ranges from narratives of macabre devouring to stories of communities forged by shared eating.

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Korsmeyer, Carolyn, , . Taste as Sense and as Sensibility
1997, Philosophical Topics 25 (1):201-230.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: Philosophers occasionally take note of the degree to which their theories make use of metaphoric language. Plato may have been the first to call attention to the heuristic use of sensory images to illuminate the world of abstractions, but twentieth-century thinkers have been particulalry reflective on the subject. Metaphors, remarks Iris Murdoch, are “fundamental forms of our awareness of our condition: metaphors of space, metaphors of movement, metaphors of vision.” Philosophical systems, she believes, can often be understood as explorations of centrally important images. Indeed, it seems to her “impossible to discuss certain kinds of concepts without resort to metaphor, since the concepts are themselves deeply metaphorical, and cannot be analyzed into non-metaphorical components without a loss of substance.” Mark Johnson agrees and obeserves that recent discoveries in cognitive science provide empirical evidence for claims about metaphor that previously were largely intuitive, namely, that “metaphor is not merely a linguistic phenomenon, but more fundamentallly, a conceptual and experiential process that structures our world.

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Kuki Shūzō, , . The Structure of Iki
2004, In Hiroshi Nara (ed.). The Structure of Detachment: The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Sh?z?. Univeristy of Hawai’i Press.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: One of the most important and creative works in modern Japanese aesthetics. Kuki develops a description of a uniquely Japanese sense of taste (iki) that brings together characteristics of the geisha, samurai, and Buddhist priest.

Comment: Best used by a reader with at least an introductory knowledge of Japanese aesthetics. Could be used comparatively with work on disinterest in western Aesthetics, e.g., Kant.

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Yuriko Saito, , . Everyday Aesthetics
2007, Oxford: Oxford University Press
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Everyday aesthetic experiences and concerns occupy a large part of our aesthetic life. However, because of their prevalence and mundane nature, we tend not to pay much attention to them, let alone examine their significance. Western aesthetic theories of the past few centuries also neglect everyday aesthetics because of their almost exclusive emphasis on art. In a ground-breaking new study, Yuriko Saito provides a detailed investigation into our everyday aesthetic experiences, and reveals how our everyday aesthetic tastes and judgments can exert a powerful influence on the state of the world and our quality of life. By analysing a wide range of examples from our aesthetic interactions with nature, the environment, everyday objects, and Japanese culture, Saito illustrates the complex nature of seemingly simple and innocuous aesthetic responses. She discusses the inadequacy of art-centered aesthetics, the aesthetic appreciation of the distinctive characters of objects or phenomena, responses to various manifestations of transience, and the aesthetic expression of moral values; and she examines the moral, political, existential, and environmental implications of these and other issues.

Comment: Saito draws on the lack of strong distinctions between fine and applied arts in Japan, as well as feminist insights and environmental aesthetics, to explore topics such as the non-disinterested nature of day to day aesthetic judgment, attitudes toward mess and disorder, and the aesthetics of domestic life. Her detailed work opens up the extraordinary complexity, including moral dimensions, of ordinary aesthetic responses to everyday objects and experiences. This is a good text to pair with cross-cultural texts on everyday aesthetics. Does not require an understanding of Japanese aesthetics and philosophy.

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