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The Nature of the Senses

By Matthew Nudds

Abstract

My thesis provides an account of the nature of the senses. Many philosophers have\ud supposed that the fact that we have different senses makes the integration of the\ud senses problematic. In this thesis I argue that introspection reveals our perceptual\ud experience to be amodal or unitary (that is, we cannot distinguish distinct\ud experiences associated with each of our senses) and hence that the real problem is\ud not how the senses are integrated with one another, but how and why we\ud distinguish five senses in the first place. What we need is an account of what our\ud judgements are about when we judge that we are, say, seeing something or some\ud property.\ud I argue that such an account cannot take any of the forms commonly\ud supposed. Philosophers often assume that an account must appeal to differences\ud between kinds of experience, but I argue that such differences are not sufficient to\ud explain the way that we distinguish five senses. Nor can we explain the distinction\ud by appealing to the different kinds of mechanism involved in perceiving, since\ud recent cognitive psychological models of the mechanisms of perception show them\ud to be functionally diverse in a way that undermines any correspondence between\ud them and the five senses, and our common-sense grasp of the different mechanisms\ud involved in perception presupposes a prior understanding of the distinction\ud between different senses.\ud I provide and account of the distinction that we make between the five\ud senses, according to which the senses are not substantially distinct. Although our\ud judgements about the senses are true, they are not judgements about kinds of thing;\ud rather, we distinguish different ways of perceiving in terms of different,\ud conventionally determined, kinds of perceptual interaction we can have with our\ud environment.Philosophy of Min

Topics: PHI
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:sas-space.sas.ac.uk:910
Provided by: SAS-SPACE
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