Rythmus and the critique of political economy

Thomas Hugh Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In his late unfinished work on aesthetic theory, Adam Smith develops the concept of rythmus to explore such arts as music, dance and poetry. Smith argues that rythmus communicates emotion in a very specific way. For Smith, narrative arts, such as drama or the novel, predominately seek to recreate or represent in the minds of their readership or audience the emotions of the characters that are portrayed. But what we experience through rythmus, by contrast, is an original, and not a sympathetic, feeling. Rythmus is the communicative medium of a paradoxical mode of collective feeling in which each person feels his or her own emotions, and yet all feel the same thing; in which social being is at once non-fungible and shared.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215 - 224
Number of pages10
JournalEmpedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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