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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

To individuate the sense modalities we need to say not only how established senses such as smell and taste differ from one another, but also how to determine whether candidate sense modalities such as kinaesthesia, thirst, and pain should be included, as well as more exotic candidates such as the perception of time and the sense of number. Aristotle discussed these issues, and there was a commentary tradition following him. H. P. Grice revived them in 1967, and there have been some further attempts since then, including some (e.g., Brian Keeley’s) that are more science oriented. This entry reviews some approaches to these questions and advances some new ideas. It proposes that the senses constitute an integrated learning system, and physiological information pick-up systems count as senses only if they integrate with this learning system. It also proposes that there are two kinds of modalities. Members of the first kind—the sensory modalities—are differentiated by their transducers. Members of the other kind—the perceptual modalities—are individuated by the kinds of activity that a perceiver undertakes to make use of them. Finally, it is proposed that across species, the senses are individuated by the biological homology criterion.

Keywords: sense modality, perceptual modality, sensory information, transducers, perceptual activity, Grice, Keeley, homology

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