Adam Smith's Sympathetic Imagination and the Aesthetic Appreciation of Environment Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper explores the significance of Adam Smith's ideas for defending non-cognitivist theories of aesthetic appreciation of nature. Objections to non-cognitivism argue that the exercise of emotion and imagination in aesthetic judgement potentially sentimentalizes and trivializes nature. I argue that although directed at moral judgement, Smith's views also find a place in addressing this problem. First, sympathetic imagination may afford a deeper and more sensitive type of aesthetic engagement. Second, in taking up the position of the impartial spectator, aesthetic judgements may originate in a type of self-regulated response where we stand outside ourselves to check those overly humanizing tendencies which might lead to a failure in appreciating nature as nature.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Scottish Philosophy

author list (cited authors)

  • Brady, E.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Brady, Emily

publication date

  • March 2011