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Rethinking the Senses

‘Rethinking the senses: uniting the philosophy and neuroscience of perception’ is a three-year project at based at the Institute of Philosophy, funded by the AHRC under the ‘Science in Culture’ theme. Beginning in autumn 2013, the project will be led by Professor Colin Blakemore (director of the Institute’s Centre for the Study of the Censes) as principal investigator, with Dr Ophelia Deroy (London), Professors Matthew Nudds (University of Warwick); Fiona Macpherson (University of Glasgow) and Charles Spence (Oxford) as co-investigators.

Our everyday conception of the senses distinguishes five different senses. Until recently philosophers and scientists have studied each of these senses in isolation. However, recent neuroscience is undermining this conception by showing that different senses are integrated. Everyday experiences - watching a film, eating a meal, walking along the street – are a result of the combined operation of different senses. To understand perception we need to understand multisensory perception. The science of perception is providing a great deal of empirical evidence concerning the multisensory operation of the senses. But the science lacks a conceptual framework to unify these results, and to draw out their significance for our everyday understanding of the senses, perception, and experience. The project will bring together philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists to work in an interdisciplinary and reciprocal way to develop an account of multisensory perception; and with others in the humanities and the arts – including artists, filmmakers, and musicians – to trace the consequences of this account for our wider understanding of the senses and our sensory experience.

The associated research seminar series is run in conjunction with the Warwick Mind and Action Research Centre (WMA) and is open to all members of the department and philosophy postgraduate students.