Philosophical Studies

, Volume 162, Issue 2, pp 401–419 | Cite as

Sniffing and smelling

Article

Abstract

In this paper I argue that olfactory experience, like visual experience, is exteroceptive: it seems to one that odours, when one smells them, are external to the body, as it seems to one that objects are external to the body when one sees them. Where the sense of smell has been discussed by philosophers, it has often been supposed to be non-exteroceptive. The strangeness of this philosophical orthodoxy makes it natural to ask what would lead to its widespread acceptance. I argue that philosophers have been misled by a visuocentric model of what exteroceptivity involves. Since olfaction lacks the spatial features that make vision exteroceptive the conclusion that olfaction is nonexteroceptive can appear quite compelling, particularly in the absence of an alternative model of exteroceptivity appropriate to olfaction. I offer a model according to which odours seem to be external to the body because they seem to be brought into the nose from without by sniffing and breathing through the nostrils. I argue that some natural-seeming objections to this model rely on substantive assumptions about how the senses are distinguished from one another, and how perceptual experience is put together out of its modality-specific parts, that require defence.

Keywords

Perception Perceptual experience Distinguishing the senses Olfactory experience Visuocentricism 

References

  1. Armstrong, D. M. (1962). Bodily sensations. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  2. Batty, C. (2009). What’s that smell? Southern Journal of Philosophy, 27, 321–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batty, C. (2010a). A representational account of olfactory experience. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 40(4), 511–538.Google Scholar
  4. Batty, C. (2010b). Scents and sensibilia. American Philosophical Quarterly, 47, 103–118.Google Scholar
  5. Batty, C. (2010c). What the nose doesn’t know: Non-veridicality and olfactory experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 17, 10–17.Google Scholar
  6. Bocca, E., Antonelli, A. R., & Mosciaro, O. (1965). Mechanical co-factors in olfactory stimulation. Acta Oto-Laryngologica, 59, 243–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boghossian, P., & Velleman, J. (1989). Color as a secondary quality. Mind, 98(389), 81–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Broad, C. D. (1927). Scientific thought. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner.Google Scholar
  9. Broad, C. D. (1942). Berkeley’s argument about material substance. In Proceedings of the British Academy, XXVIII.Google Scholar
  10. Casati, R., & Dokic, J. (2005). Sounds. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2008 edition). Accessed October 21, 2009, from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/sounds/.
  11. Crane, T. (2003). The intentional structure of consciousness. In Q. Smith (Ed.), Consciousness: New philosophical perspectives (pp. 33–56). Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  12. Frasnelli, J., Charbonneau, G., Collignon, O., & Lepore, F. (2009). Odor localization and sniffing. Chemical Senses, 34(2), 139–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gibson, J. J. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  14. Gottfried, J. A. (2005). A truffle in the mouth is worth two in the bush: Odour localization in the human brain. Neuron, 47(4), 473–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gray, R. (2011). On the nature of the senses. In F. Macpherson (Ed.), The senses: Classic and contemporary perspectives (pp. 243–260). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Grice, H. P. (1962). Some remarks about the senses. In R. J. Butler (Ed.), Analytic philosophy (pp. 133–153). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Herz, R. S., & von Clef, J. (2001). The influence of verbal labeling on the perception of odors: Evidence for olfactory illusions? Perception, 30, 381–391.Google Scholar
  18. Hopkins, R. (1998). Picture, image and experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kant, I. (2006). Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Keeley, B. L. (2002). Making sense of the senses: Individuating modalities in humans and other animals. Journal of Philosophy, 99(1), 5–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kobal, G., Vantoller, S., & Hummel, T. (1989). Is there directional smelling? Experientia, 45(2), 130–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kriegel, U. (2007). The phenomenologically manifest. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 6, 115–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lycan, W. (2000). The slighting of smell (with a brief note on the slighting of chemistry). In N. Bhushan & S. Rosenfeld (Eds.), Of minds and molecules (pp. 273–289). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Mainland, J., & Sobel, N. (2006). The sniff is part of the olfactory percept. Chemical Senses, 31(2), 181–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Martin, M. G. F. (1998). Bodily awareness: A sense of ownership. In J. Bermudez & N. Eilan (Eds.), The body and the self (pp. 267–290). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Martin, M. G. F. (2002). The transparency of experience. Mind and Language, 17(4), 376–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Martin, M. G. F. (2010). What’s in a look? In B. Nanay (Ed.), Perceiving the world (pp. 160–225). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matthen, M. (2005). Seeing, doing and knowing. Oxford: Clarendon. Google Scholar
  29. Moore, G. E. (1903). The refutation of idealism. In G. E. Moore (Ed.), Philosophical studies (pp. 1–30). Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co.Google Scholar
  30. Nudds, M. (2004). The significance of the senses. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 104(1), 31–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nudds, M. (2011). The senses as psychological kinds. In F. Macpherson (Ed.), The senses: Classic and contemporary perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. O’Callaghan, C. (2010). Sounds and events. In C. O’Callaghan & M. Nudds (Eds.), Sounds and perception: New philosophical essays (pp. 26–49). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. O’Callaghan, C. (2011). Lessons from beyond vision (sounds and audition). Philosophical Studies, 153(1), 143–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. O’Shaughnessy, B. (2002). Consciousness and the world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Pasnau, R. (1999). What is sound? Philosophical Quarterly, 49(196), 309–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Price, H. (1959). The nature and status of sense data in broad’s epistemology. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of C.D. Broad. New York: Tudor Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  37. Proctor, D. (1982). The mucociliary system. In D. Proctor & I. H. P. Andersen (Eds.), The nose, upper airway physiology and the atmospheric environment (pp. 245–278). Amsterdam: Elsevier Biomedical Press.Google Scholar
  38. Radil, T., & Wysocki, C. J. (1998). Spatiotemporal masking in pure olfaction. Olfaction and Taste, XII(855), 641–644.Google Scholar
  39. Rajan, R., Clement, J. P., & Bhalla, U. S. (2006). Rats smell in stereo. Science, 311(5761), 666–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Reid, T. (1983). In R. Beanblossom & K. Lehrer (Eds.), Thomas Reid’s inquiry and essays. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.Google Scholar
  41. Richardson, L. (forthcoming). Flavour, taste and smell.Google Scholar
  42. Robinson, H. (1994). Perception. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Rozin, P. (1982). Taste-smell confusions and the duality of the olfactory sense. Perception & Psychophysics, 31(4), 397–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Siegel, S. (2006). Which properties are represented in perception? In J. Hawthorne & T. Gendler (Eds.), Perceptual experience (pp. 481–503). Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Smith, A. D. (2002). The problem of perception. London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Tye, M. (2000). Consciousness, color, and content. London: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  47. Von Bekesy, G. (1964). Olfactory analogue to directional hearing. Journal of Applied Physiology, 19(3), 369–373.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Christ Church, University of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations