Originally Posted by mafoofan
Also, are food and art really any different from other things? I'm having trouble thinking of a good that isn't
valued partially on aesthetics or some other subjective measure.
I guess I was looking at it the other way around. My hunch is that other forms of art & aesthetic judgment aren't dependent in quite the same way upon the literal ingredients that make them up as food & eating are.
Everyone has to eat, and virtually everyone experiences food aesthetically, so we’re more or less forced to make aesthetic judgments about food all the time. More ingredients = expanding aesthetic horizons. This certainly doesn't mean that everyone plugged into a global market has good taste--I think fuuma's right that it leads to millions settling for mediocrity. On the other hand, I think you’re right that "mediocrity" certainly keeps on improving.
Could we really say the same about other forms of art? (I’m literally not sure—I could be off base, and I could be basing this on all sorts of shaky assumptions. I especially hope I'm not somehow harboring some sort of half-assed quasi-Kantian notion of disinterested aesthetic judgment.) I don’t know if the availability of all sorts of paints or whatever really improves tastes. And I’m not sure that the availability of all sorts of art-objects (reproduced art, tchotchkes, or more and more museums) really brings up the collective average when it comes to taste. It might, or it might have a bad effect, or it might have no effect.
In any case, this was why I was suggesting that food strikes me as an especially tricky example of talking about mass consumerism & taste.