Enactivism's Last Breaths

In M. Curado & S. Gouveia (eds.), Contemporary Perspective in the Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge Scholars Press (2017)
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Olfactory perception provides a promising test case for enactivism, since smelling involves actively sampling our surrounding environment by sniffing. Smelling deploys implicit skillful knowledge of how our movement and the airflow around us yield olfactory experiences. The hybrid nature of olfactory experience makes it an ideal test case for enactivism with its esteem for touch and theoretical roots in vision. Olfaction is like vision in facilitating the perception of distal objects, yet it requires us to breath in and physically contact the sensory object in a manner similar to touch. The paper offers an analysis of the central theoretical components of enactivism, whose soundness and empirical viability are tested using the empirical literature on sniffing. It will be shown that even if sniffing is an essential component of olfaction, the motoric component is not necessary for perceiving smells, which is contrary to the most crucial tenet of enactivism. Thus, the paper concludes that the theory cannot account for olfactory perception.



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Benjamin D. Young
University of Nevada, Reno

Citations of this work

Perceiving Smellscapes.Benjamin D. Young - 2020 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (2):203-223.
Olfactory Amodal Completion.Benjamin D. Young & Bence Nanay - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):372-388.
Olfactory imagery: is exactly what it smells like.Benjamin D. Young - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3303-3327.
Olfactory Objecthood.Błażej Skrzypulec - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (3):881-900.

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References found in this work

What the Nose Doesn't Know: Non-Veridicality and Olfactory Experience.Clare Batty - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):10-17.
Sensational properties: Theses to accept and theses to reject.Christopher Peacocke - 2008 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 62 (1):7-24.
Perception and action: The taste test.Alessandra Tanesini & Richard Gray - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):718-734.

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