Benjamin Young (University of Nevada): Conceptualizing Smells

3 May, 2023 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Seminari de Lògica i Filosofia de la Ciència (sala 714) | Facultat de Filosofia i Ciències de l'Educació (Universitat de València)


We are awesome smellers! The sheer number of new and novel odors that we can detect and discriminate is simply outstanding in its scope and adaptability. However, there is an incompatibility between our olfactory perceptual states and general cognitive capacities mediated by linguistic concepts that might be attribute to a difference of formats. Previously, I have argued that olfactory sensory and perceptual states (including mental imagery) implement a representational system of functional compositionality that is non-conceptual (Young, 2015). Moreover, the format of olfactory states is incompatible with that of our visual and linguistically
mediated conceptual repertoire, which explains the discrepancy between our gifted
discriminative capacities and limited ability to identify smells by name (Young, 2019). The talk
extends this framework by pondering the formative nature of olfactory cognitive states. In
particular, the central question to be explored is how we cognize smells categorically such that we can think about smells across multiple instances as being of the same kind and interpersonally communicate about them?