PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

Speaker: Louise Richardson (University of York)

Title: What does Taste Represent

Abstract: It is generally accepted that sight—the capacity to see or to have visual experiences—has the power to give us knowledge about things in the environment and some of their properties in a distinctive way. Seeing the goose on the lake puts me in a position to know that it’s there and that it’s, say, brown, large, maybe even that it’s angry. And it does this by, when all goes well, presenting us with these features of the goose. One might even think that it’s part of what it is to be a perceptual capacity that it has this kind of epistemological power, such that a capacity that lacked this power could not be perceptual. My focus will be on the sense of taste—the capacity to taste things or to have taste experiences. It has sometimes been suggested that taste lacks sight-like epistemological power. I will argue that taste has epistemological power of the same kind as sight’s, but that as a matter of contingent fact, that power often goes unexercised in our contemporary environment. We can know about things by tasting them in the same kind of way as we can know about things by seeing them, but we often don’t. I then consider the significance of this conclusion. I’ll suggest that in one way, it matters little, because our primary interest in taste (in marked contrast to our other senses) isn’t epistemic but aesthetic. But, I will end by suggesting, it can matter ethically.

Further information

We are a group of researchers from diverse backgrounds in the above-mentioned groups (and beyond) who aim to gain an interdisciplinary yet deep understanding of the threads that bind the human mind and the world. In particular, this seminar series focuses on the nature of cognition, metacognition and social cognition. We’ll be tackling questions such as, what does it mean to think? What does it mean to think about thinking? And, what does it mean to think about one’s own thinking versus thinking about the thinking of other people? Please come along!

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Contact details

Dr Alistair Isaac

Sep 25 2019 -

PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

2019-09-25: What does Taste Represent

Room 1.20, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD