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Research Article

Anosmic Aesthetics


Marta Tafalla

Department of Philosophy, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Campus de Bellaterra, Cerdanyola del Vallés, E-08193, ES
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Anosmia is a sensory disability that consists of the inability to perceive odours. The sense of smell can be lost at any time during life, but people suffering from congenital anosmia, as I do, have never had any experience of smelling. My question is whether such an impairment of olfaction impoverishes aesthetic appreciation or makes it different in any way. I hypothesize that congenital anosmia entails two different kinds of loss in aesthetic appreciation. In order to test my hypothesis, I address modern and contemporary aesthetic theory. Finally, I claim that congenital anosmia constitutes an impoverishment, but also ask whether it can be compensated for by dialogue and imagination. I further inquire as to whether it can foster a more self-critical aesthetic appreciation, more conscious of the powers and limits of our senses.
How to Cite: Tafalla, Marta. “Anosmic Aesthetics”. Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics 50, no. 1 (2013): 53–80. DOI:
Published on 15 May 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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