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Project: Rethinking the Senses: Uniting the Philosophy and Neuroscience of Perception

Rethinking the Senses: Uniting the Philosophy and Neuroscience of Perception

Our everyday understanding of perception is that we see, touch, smell, taste, and hear. The vocabulary of five distinct senses ramifies through our descriptions of thought, emotion, and aesthetics. Until recently, philosophers and scientists alike have accepted this framework and studied each of the senses in isolation. Modern cognitive neuroscience is challenging our understanding of sensory perception: instead of five we might have to count up to 33 different senses, each served by dedicated sets of receptors. Studying the senses in isolation is also misleading: everyday experiences, such as watching a film or eating a meal, involve different senses working together.

We will draw upon the expertise of philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists, allowing them to work together in entirely new ways. Through seminars, workshops and conferences, they will consider existing scientific evidence within a philosophical framework, with the specific intention of raising critical questions to be tested empirically. Philosophers and scientists will work together in this work, including the design and conduct of experiments within a new experimental space at the Institute of Philosophy, the first of its kind to be dedicated to interactions between the sciences, the art and the humanities.


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