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The Connexion between Taste and Morals

Is the prevalence of a cultivated taste, favorable to morals? Is there
a connexion, either in individuals, or in communities, between
good taste and good morals?
When I began to reflect upon this point with reference to a public
discussion of it, I put the above questions to three educated men, as
I happened to meet them. The first said, he had not thought of it,
but that, at the first view, he did not believe there was any such
connexion; the second said he should wish to see it proved before
he would believe it; and the third said, he thought there was such a
connexion. This difference of opinion among educated men, led
me to think that an investigation of the subject might be a matter of
interest, and perhaps of profit. As every thing, in this country,
depends upon a sound state of morals in the community, whatever
bears upon that, deserves our most careful scrutiny.
[Pg 6]
To discuss this subject understandingly, we must know precisely
what we are talking about. What then is taste? This term is
sometimes used to express mere desire, as a taste for dress, or for
low pleasures. It can hardly be necessary to say that that is not the
meaning now attached to it. Taste is defined by Alison, to be,
"That faculty of the human mind by which we perceive and enjoy
whatever is beautiful or sublime in the works of nature or of art."
According to this definition, which is sufficiently correct for our
present purpose, it will be perceived that there is, first, a perception