Making sense of the senses: Philosophical traditions and the nature of perception


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




This project is an interdisciplinary exploration into the nature of the senses. This study will go beyond the familiar five senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell to explore unusual senses in other animals (e.g., electroreception in fish & echolocation in bats), as well as putative, nonconscious human senses, such as a human sense of magnetic fields or of pheromones. What evidence would be required to establish the existence of such senses and what can we know about them? This study will also look at the schism within Western philosophy between Anglo-American "Analytic" and "Continental" traditions as represented by their different approaches to the senses. It will turn out that much of what they have to say here is complementary.