Vision, Olfaction, and the Unity of Senses

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Skrzypulec, Błażej
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conference paper description
In the contemporary analytic discussions concerning human olfactory perception, it is commonly claimed that (1) olfactory experiences are representations having content and (2) olfactory experiences represent odours, like coffee odour or vanilla odour. However, despite these common assumptions, there seems to be an ontological controversy between two views: the first states that odours represented by olfaction should be characterised as features and the second states that they should be interpreted as objects. In this paper, I aim to systematically address the “feature or object” status of odours by comparing their ontological characteristics to those possessed by visually represented objects and features. I argue that olfactorily represented odours constitute a sui generis ontological category which differs from the categories of visually represented entities and cannot be easily classified as objects or features. Such investigations constitute a step in establishing whether various human modalities are ontologically unified by organising the environment according to the same categories.