Mark Johnstone
McMaster University
The sense of smell occupies a peculiar intermediate position within Aristotle's theory of sense perception: odours, like colours and sounds, are perceived at a distance through an external medium of air or water; yet in their nature they are intimately related to flavours, the proper objects of taste, which for Aristotle is a form of touch. In this paper, I examine Aristotle's claims about odour and smell, especially in De Anima II.9 and De Sensu 5, to see what light they shed on his theory of sense perception more generally. In the first half, I argue that neither of the two most influential recent ways of understanding Aristotle's theory of perception can adequately account for what he says about the sense of smell. In the second half, I offer my own positive account, considering and resolving various puzzles raised by Aristotle's claims about the nature of odour and its relation to flavour. Finally, I conclude that Aristotle's discussions of odour and smell suggest a plausible and interesting way of understanding the relationship, on his view, between ordinary, material changes in the sense organs and the activation of the capacity to perceive, considered merely as such.
Keywords Aristotle  Soul  Smell  Perception  Senses  De Anima  De Sensu
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References found in this work BETA

Hylomorphism and Functionalism.S. Marc Cohen - 1992 - In Martha Nussbaum & Amelie Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s De Anima. Clarendon Press. pp. 57-73.
The Assimilation of Sense to Sense-Object in Aristotle.Hendrik Lorenz - 2007 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 33:179-220.
Aristotle and the Problem of Intentionality.Victor Caston - 1998 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):249-298.
Aristotle and the Problem of Intentionality.Victor Caston - 1998 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):249-298.
Aristotle on Sense Perception.Thomas J. Slakey - 1961 - Philosophical Review 70 (4):470-484.

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Citations of this work BETA

Aristotle on Sounds.Mark A. Johnstone - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (5):631-48.
The Notion of Homonymy, Synonymy, Multivocity, and Pros Hen in Aristotle.Niels Tolkiehn - 2019 - Dissertation, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Aristotle's Case for Perceptual Knowledge.Robert Howton - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Toronto

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