The Cinderella of the Senses: Smell as a Window into Mind and Brain
Ann-Sophie Barwich (Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana University, Bloomington)

April 7, 2022, 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Rotman Institute of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario

WIRB 1170
1151 Richmond St
London N6A 3K7

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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Join the Rotman Institute of Philosophy for a talk by Dr. Ann Sophie-Barwich related to her recent book, Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind (Harvard University Press, 2020). This will be a hybrid event with in-person and virtual attendance options. Advance registration is required.


The human sense of smell has a remarkably lousy reputation. Popular opinion holds that we are bad at identifying and naming scents, our olfactory system is in evolutionary decline, and our olfactory sensations lack cognitive sophistication. However, scientific insight has proven many of these predominantly pejorative beliefs about human smell perception wrong over the past three decades. Our olfactory system is much more elaborate than previously thought, both in its physiological and cognitive functions. Recent developments in research on smell now offer an intriguing challenge to the current paradigm of sensory explanation: vision. My talk shows how theories of mind and brain–traditionally framed through our understanding of vision–can be revisited through smell. Specifically, I argue that (1) odor perception is variable but not subjective, and (2) our eyes are more easily fooled than our nose. The central aim of this talk is to illustrate the deep connection of odor perception with cognition. Not only is our perception of smell better than we think, but it is also better when we think.

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April 7, 2022, 9:00am EST

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