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The nature of the senses

Nudds, Matthew; (2000) The nature of the senses. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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My thesis provides an account of the nature of the senses. Many philosophers have supposed that the fact that we have different senses makes the integration of the senses problematic. In this thesis I argue that introspection reveals our perceptual experience to be amodal or unitary (that is, we cannot distinguish distinct experiences associated with each of our senses) and hence that the real problem is not how the senses are integrated with one another, but how and why we distinguish five senses in the first place. What we need is an account of what our judgements are about when we judge that we are, say, seeing something or some property. I argue that such an account cannot take any of the forms commonly supposed. Philosophers often assume that an account must appeal to differences between kinds of expenence, but I argue that such differences are not sufficient to explain the way that we distinguish five senses. Nor can we explain the distinction by appealing to the different kinds of mechanism involved in perceiving, since recent cognitive psychological models of the mechanisms of perception show them to be functionally diverse in a way that undermines any correspondence between them and the five senses, and our common-sense grasp of the different mechanisms involved in perception presupposes a prior understanding of the distinction between different senses. I provide and account of the distinction that we make between the five senses, according to which the senses are not substantially distinct. Although our judgements about the senses are true, they are not judgements about kinds of thing; rather, we distinguish different ways of perceiving in terms of different, conventionally determined, kinds of perceptual interaction we can have with our environment.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The nature of the senses
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Perceptual interactions
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106270
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