'Making Sense of the Senses' ReduxBrian Keeley (Pitzer College)
Room G35 (Senate House, Ground Floor)
A decade ago, I argued for what I called a "neuroethological approach" to understanding how to individuate the senses. This approach takes the biological science that seeks to explore the neural basis of natural behaviors as its starting point, for example, in the almost 150 year path from the first proposal that animals might use electricity to perceive their environment to the mid-20th century arrival at the consensus that a number of fish, sharks, skates and rays possess this nonhuman sensory modality. I now argue that this biological understanding of the senses is but one of many related, but different, explanations of the senses that we find in scientific and lay accounts of the sensory modalities. Embracing such a pluralism raises the problem of what unifies them; that is, what is it that makes all of these different accounts accounts of the senses? I argue that most, if not all, of them share a basic schematic structure reflected by the generic use of the term "modality" in these contexts. I will present that schema and show how it applies to a couple of different approaches to the senses.
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