AAP Conference Adelaide 2017

Barry C. Smith Keynote

The Nature of Experience 

Philosophers often appeal to experiences to serve as the basis of judgments of various kinds: about what we perceive, the emotions we feel, our appreciation of art works or music. The experiences appealed to are taken to be known through and through for what they are and their very natures are taken to constraint our philosophical theorizing. Accounts of the nature of pain, the perception of colours, sounds and smells are required to respect obvious features of these experiences. 
But how secure is this form of reasoning? Findings in sensory neuroscience point to features of sensory experiences that we frequently overlook, such as their complex multisensory character. This opens up a gap, often overlooked in philosophy, between how things appear to us in experience and how they are. Revisions to our understanding of everyday experience calls for revisions to philosophical theorizing and motivates the need for a new approach to the nature experience. 


Professor Barry C Smith is director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. He is also the founding director of its Centre for the Study of the Senses, which pioneers collaborative research links between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. A philosopher of language and mind, he now works on the multisensory nature of perceptual experience, taste, smell and flavour.  He has published theoretical and experimental papers, writing in Nature, Food Quality and Preference and Flavour . In 2007, he edited Questions of Taste: the philosophy of wine, Oxford University Press 2007), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, Oxford University Press 2008 (with Ernest Lepore), and Knowing Our Own Minds Oxford University Press 1998 (with Crispin Wright and Cynthia Macdonald). He is a frequent broadcaster. In 2010, wrote and presented a four-part series for the BBC World Service called The Mysteries of the Brain.


Barry C. Smith's page




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