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whnay.'s good taste thread

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Manton, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. sprout2

    sprout2 Senior member

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    This. I don't understand why there is so much hand-wringing about thread policing and treating things like a moderated junior debate club. These things resolve and reach a conclusion, and the tangents are part of it. With the exception of that bizarre 40 page episode a while back.
    You should assume that someone's comments are their own opinions, not a statement of atomic fact. When enough opinions coalesce around a consensus, we have a heuristic.
     
  2. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    i dont really disagree with that either, particularly the last part. i was not saying there is anything wrong with that, i think its great that there is range in opinion. i think its just a matter of tone. im a softie, oh well.
     
  3. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    No offense to you guys, but your individual opinions are of way less interest to me than the traditional markers and mores of good taste in tailored clothing. Foo, you're embracing the very relativism that the thread was meant to combat.
     
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  4. Betelgeuse

    Betelgeuse Senior member

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    I like this part you wrote in here, mafoofan, especially the second part of your thought. I remember my art history and appreciation class, in which we have to learn how to analyse a painting, sculpture or something related to art, harmony, rhythm, balance, etc. You get to a point in which you always look at a painting and start thinking of all these things and you end with a very good analysis of what you are seeing. At the end of the course, the teacher told us that it doesn't matter how good your analysis could be, what matters the most is a simple response: I like it or I don't like it.

    I think that you and Manton, and maybe others, have this specialized eye or trained eye, to evaluate all this things of an outfit, but at the end of the day it all comes to "I like it or not". [​IMG]


    PS. This was written with no intentions of bothering someone, just my thoughts.
     
  5. msulinski

    msulinski Senior member

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    Hmm, I may need to consider changing out my buttons for brown horn. The jacket is quarter-lined though, so maybe it is a spring/summer jacket.
     
  6. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    i will stop posting about this for now, because doc is saying all the things i mean to say, and of course, doing a way better job of it.
     
  7. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I hate to argue philosophy with foo because he never gives up even when he's wrong. In fact, the more wrong he is, the more tenacious he gets. But ...

    The problem is not that "we are each governed by our own preferences, circumstances, biases, limitations, etc." You can say that about (nearly) all people all the time, about any subject whatever. The mere fact of the variability of opinion is not proof that opinion cannot be replaced with knowledge.

    Foo also contradicts himself when he says that we can't know what good taste is, on the one hand, but that we can tell whose posts are to be valued, on the other. The latter implies that we can know what good taste is, or else why would we value their opinions? It can't be simply that they are in the majority and we are trying to assess what is conventional, because those most valued are decidedly NOT in the majority. It could be simply that they speak the loudest; that must be admitted as a possibility.

    But what is implied is that there is some intrinsic merit to their judgment, which in turn hinges on what is the basis for that judgment.

    So we have two issues here:

    Ontological: Does good taste exist?

    -and-

    Epistemological: If so, is it knowable?

    Plus, issue #1 is separable to two:

    1) Is there a rational basis for aesthetics?
    2) Does that extend to clothes?

    As I have argued elsewhere (in passages in my book which no one seems to have noticed or understood), I do believe there is a rational basis for aesthetics (hence good taste DOES exist) but individual expressions are conventional. So that what constitutes “good taste” in the Brummell era differs markedly from our own. There is no natural or rational reason why breeches went out and trousers came in. But once you have accepted the one or the other, it’s possible—based on the aesthetic sense—to know what works well or best within the given matter.

    This is in keeping with Aristotle’s enigmatic remark (in Nicomachean Ethics V 7) that natural right is “changeable.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
    7 people like this.
  8. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    And who or what defines "the traditional markers and mores of good taste?" You're fooling yourself if you think you can find some sort of unimpeachable reference.
     
  9. RDiaz

    RDiaz Senior member

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    sprout, isn't "braces" the british word for that particular item? i call them tirantes in real life anyways... :p
     
  10. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    In addition, an another point of Aristotle's that I have quoted frequently, “One should not seek out precision in all arguments alike … it belongs to an educated person to seek out the precision in each genus to the extent that the nature of the matter allows: to accept persuasive speech from a skilled mathematician appears comparable to demanding demonstrations from a skilled rhetorician.”

    This is not math, hence to expect mathematical precision is a mistake. Yet it is a conceit of modernity that only things proved the way mathematical postulates are proved are truly knowledge whereas everything else is an opinion, of inherently lesser value. Or, if you will, “facts” in this pile, “values” in that one.

    But that is wrong.
     
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  11. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Much easier to identify than "what is good taste," the same way that various customs have been and are observed and recorded across time, borders, cultures, civilizations, etc.

    If one wishes to accept the "fact-value" distinction, these are "facts" whereas what looks good v. bad are always "values." So, taking sprout as our example, it is a "fact" that OCBDs are most common in America whereas it is a value that these look bad (sprout) or good (foo/manton).
     
  12. sprout2

    sprout2 Senior member

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    Yes, Dennis Dutton makes this case in his book, more or less.
    Yes -- reread my post. But I am relieved that you do. Maybe braces is the agreed-upon forvm term for an international audience. But I am always a little weirded out when Americans use British terminology or vice versa, although the road is mostly one-way in clothing.
     
  13. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The reason this thread has force is largely because you are so broadly respected for your taste. But, strictly speaking, we cannot know if your taste is good. I see no contradiction, just an acknowledgement that we have to proceed from some starting point as a practical matter. That's the basis of science, too. Science reveals no truth. It does not allow us to truly know anything. It only follows observation, which is fundamentally fallible, to increase predictability, which is not absolute. Still, there is great practical value in science.

    I might smell a duck in the room. I might distinctly sense Piobaire is also present. If forced to make a practical gamble, I might bet that some duck fucking is going on. That's where the safe money is. But that doesn't mean I know the duck is getting fucked (though, don't I?).
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  14. sprout2

    sprout2 Senior member

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    Yes, but I am pushing that the value that it looks good/not good is endemic to the cultural background and, therefore, forms a heuristic of good taste that is site-specific. American taste, European taste, etc. I don't think I was coming off half-cocked and saying that OCBDs are ugly because I say so. The point is that there is this rose-colored notion that taste (in the very specific confines of tailored clothing) is presided over by a pantheon of late legends, and that it spans countries, continents, and galaxies. I was trying to pull the rug out from under you and question the underlying biases for your like of OCBDs. They are trumpeted on this BBS but in my opinion that is not a majority view in the real world.

    So far the only basis for it is that rugged fabrics go well with rugged fabrics, but that seems quite textbook to me.
     
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  15. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Foo, I've said it before and you've shown no interest in exploring the matter (indeed I would say that you are hostile to the very idea) but your idea of "science" (and everything else) is wholly, thoroughly "modern" and based on premises that are not only questionable but (IMO) inferior to the pre-modern thought which they replaced.

    There is more to knowledge than "Science", which in your conception is a recent invention (17th century). Prior to that, "science" and "philosophy" were one and the same and it was a very different thing with different premises.

    On your (modern) conception, there truly is no point in talking about "good taste" as anything but a purely subjective matter, i.e., as a "value." To consistently believe in any kind of intrinsic, external aesthetics, one must have recourse to pre-modern thought.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  16. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I'd find it boring if it were always black-and-white. That's exactly the discussion I'd like to have -- to hold these things up to the light and see what value they have today.

    I value your opinion most when it differs from mine, because I came to the forum to discuss these things with guys of like minds but individual tastes.
     
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  17. sprout2

    sprout2 Senior member

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    I like how in this discussion we are seeing the respective training of Messrs. M and F come out.
    The former appeals to logic and the latter to rhetoric (lawyer).
    And also the worldview: classical vs. post-modern (overweening relativism)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
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  18. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I have been trying to read Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (it is now overdue to the library, and I may have to buy a copy). Is this precisely what he deals with?
     
  19. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Maybe I wasn't clear. Science does not allow us to know anything, as it is entirely empirical. I'm not privileging science or saying knowledge isn't possible.

    However, in the case of aesthetic taste, we are dealing with another empirically-grounded subject, as all aesthetic judgments are based on what is observed. Hence, any aesthetic judgement is intrinsically fallible and should not be confused for knowledge.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  20. rob

    rob Senior member

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    I'm going back 30 years ago or so but Kuhn doesn't talk about knowledge broadly or scientific knowledge in relation to other types of knowledge, at least not directly. Rather he discussed the different paradigms of scientific knowledge (or belief) and how it doesn't grow from one foundation adding brick by brick. Instead, scientific develops by knocking the whole building down and starting again.

    Others more in tune are free to correct me.

    Rob
     

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