... ISBN0199215928 ... -/- Abstract: Vision dominates philosophical thinking about perception, and theorizing about experience in cognitive science traditionally has focused on a visual model. This book presents a systematic treatment of sounds and auditory experience. It demonstrates how thinking about audition and appreciating the relationships among multiple sense modalities enriches our understanding of perception. It articulates the central questions that comprise the philosophy of sound, and proposes a novel theory of sounds and their perception. Against the widely accepted philosophical (...) view that sounds are among the secondary or sensible qualities, and against the scientific view that sounds are waves that propagate through a medium such as air or water, the book argues that sounds are events in which objects or interacting bodies disturb a surrounding medium. This does not imply that sounds propagate through a medium, such as air or water. Rather, sounds are events that take place in one's environment at or near their sources. This account captures the way in which sounds essentially are creatures of time and situates sounds in the world. Sounds are not ethereal, mysterious entities. It also provides a powerful account of echoes, interference, reverberation, Doppler effects, and perceptual constancies that surpasses the explanatory richness of alternative theories. Investigating sounds and audition demonstrates that considering other sense modalities teaches what we could not otherwise learn from thinking exclusively about the visual. This book concludes by arguing that a surprising class of cross-modal perceptual illusions demonstrates that the perceptual modalities cannot be completely understood in isolation, and that a visuocentric model for theorizing about perception — according to which perceptual modalities are discrete modes of experience and autonomous domains of philosophical and scientific inquiry — ought to be abandoned. -/- . (shrink)
Vision has dominated philosophical thinking about perceptual experience and the nature of its objects. Color has long been the focus of debates about the metaphysics of sensible qualities, and philosophers have struggled to articulate the conditions on the visual experience of mind-independent objects. With few notable exceptions, "visuocentrism" has shaped our understanding of the nature and functions of perception, and of our conception of its objects. The predominant line of thought from the early modern era to the present is that, (...) in the philosophically interesting respects, as things are with vision, so they are with hearing, touch, olfaction, and the rest. A closely related line of thought has been particularly strong in the case of the secondary qualities. (shrink)
Object perception deploys a suite of perceptual capacities that constrains attention, guides reidentification, subserves recognition, and anchors demonstrative thought. Objects for perception—perceptual objects—are the targets of such capacities. Characterizing perceptual objects for multisensory perception faces two puzzles. First is the diversity of objects across sensory modalities. Second is the unity of multisensory perceptual objects. This paper resolves the puzzles. Objects for perception are structured mereologically complex individuals. Perceptual objects are items that bear perceptible features and have perceptible parts arranged to (...) form a unified whole. This circumscribes the targets of object perception where neutral talk concerning intentional objects and objects of perception cannot. Nonetheless, it is more permissive than identifying perceptual objects with material bodies, which excludes too much and leans too heavily on vision. The account thus is tailored to capture the role of objects in perception beyond vision: tactual, auditory, and olfactory objects are individuals with differing structures. Its flexibility also enables the account to accommodate shared objects for multisensory perception: multisensory perceptual objects are mereologically complex individuals with hybrid structure. For instance, one can bimodally perceive a common whole with parts accessible to one but not both modalities. Each sense provides a partial perspective on a complex whole that is perceptible through the coordinated use of multiple senses. Understanding perceptual objects as structured mereologically complex individuals thus provides a theoretically useful notion of an object for multisensory perception that resolves the puzzles of diversity and of unity. (shrink)
A Martian reading contemporary work on perception might be forgiven for thinking that humans had only one sense: vision. Witness the title of one popular recent collection: Vision and mind: selected readings in the philosophy of perception. Our obsession with sight is stifling. It leads to distorted vision-based models of the other senses, and it means that the distinctive puzzles raised by non-visual modalities are routinely neglected. With this pioneering and long-overdue collection of essays on auditory perception, Nudds and O’Callaghan (...) aim to start correcting this state of affairs. They deserve much praise, not least for their own substantial contributions and splendid introduction. (shrink)
Nearly every theory of perception just focuses on one sense at a time; but most of the time we perceive using multiple senses. Casey O'Callaghan offers a revisionist multisensory philosophy of perception: he explores how our senses work together and influence each other, leading to surprising perceptual illusions and novel forms of experience.
Beyond Vision brings together eight essays by Casey O'Callaghan which draw theoretical and philosophical lessons about perception, the nature of its objects, and sensory awareness. O'Callaghan focuses on auditory perception, perception of spoken language, and multisensory perception.
Listening to speech in a language you know differs phenomenologically from listening to speech in an unfamiliar language, a fact often exploited in debates about the phenomenology of thought and cognition. It is plausible that the difference is partly perceptual. Some contend that hearing familiar language involves auditory perceptual awareness of meanings or semantic properties of spoken utterances; but if this were so, there must be something distinctive it is like auditorily to perceptually experience specific meanings of spoken utterances. However, (...) an argument from homophony shows that auditory experiences do not resolve differences in meaning not marked by differences in sound. I propose an alternative explanation of the perceptual phenomenal difference in terms of perceptual awareness of language-specific but non-semantic features. (shrink)
Vision has been the primary focus of naturalistic philosophical research concerning perception and perceptual experience. Guided by visual experience and vision science, many philosophers have focused upon theoretical issues dealing with the perception of objects. Recently, however, hearing researchers have discussed auditory objects. I present the case for object perception in vision, and argue that an analog of object perception occurs in auditory perception. I propose a notion of an auditory object that is stronger than just that of an intentional (...) object of audition, but that does not identify auditory objects with the ordinary material objects we see. (shrink)
Philosophers and cognitive scientists of perception by custom have investigated individual sense modalities in relative isolation from each other. However, perceiving is, in a number of respects, multimodal. The traditional sense modalities should not be treated as explanatorily independent. Attention to the multimodal aspects of perception challenges common assumptions about the content and phenomenology of perception, and about the individuation and psychological nature of sense modalities. Multimodal perception thus presents a valuable opportunity for a case study in mature interdisciplinary cognitive (...) science. This chapter aims to raise these issues against the background of unimodal approaches in the study of perception. It presents some of the central empirical findings concerning multimodality, and it explains the philosophical implications of these findings. Foremost, it aims to encourage and open avenues for future research. (shrink)
My thesis is that perceptual awareness is richly multisensory. I argue for this conclusion on the grounds that certain forms of multisensory perceptual experience are incompatible with the claim that each aspect of a perceptual experience is associated with some specific sensory modality or another. First, I explicate what it is for some feature of a conscious perceptual episode to be modality specific. Then, I argue based on philosophical and experimental evidence that some novel intermodal features are perceptible only through (...) the coordinated use of multiple senses. I appeal to cases that involve consciously perceptible feature instances and feature types that could not be perceptually experienced through the use of individual sense modalities working on their own or simply in parallel and co-consciously. Finally, I offer an account of how to type perceptual experiences by modality that makes room for richly multisensory experiences. (shrink)
Cross-modal perceptual illusions occur when a stimulus to one modality impacts perceptual experience associated with another modality. Unlike synaesthesia, cross-modal illusions are intelligible as results of perceptual strategies for dealing with sensory stimulation to multiple modalities, rather than as mere quirks. I argue that understanding cross-modal illusions reveals an important flaw in a widespread conception of the senses, and of their role in perceptual experience, according to which understanding perception and perceptual experience is a matter of assembling independently viable stories (...) about vision, audition, olfaction, and the rest. (shrink)
Sounds are audible, and sound sources are audible. What is the audible relation between audible sounds and audible sources? Common talk and philosophy suggest three candidates. The first is that sounds audibly are properties instantiated by their sources. I argue that sounds are audible individuals and thus are not audibly instantiated by audible sources. The second is that sounds audibly are effects of their sources. I argue that auditory experience presents no compelling evidence that sounds audibly are causally related to (...) audible sources. The third is that sounds audibly are related mereologically to their sources. I present and offer a defence of this third candidate. (shrink)
It is tempting to hold that perceptual experience amounts to a co-conscious collection of visual, auditory, tactual, gustatory, and olfactory episodes. If so, each aspect of perceptual experience on each occasion is associated with a specific modality. This paper, however, concerns a core variety of multimodal perceptual experience. It argues that there is perceptually apparent intermodal feature binding. I present the case for this claim, explain its consequences for theorizing about perceptual experience, and defend it against objections. I maintain that (...) just as one thing may perceptually appear at once to jointly bear several features associated with the same sense modality, one thing also may perceptually appear at once to jointly bear features associated with different sense modalities. For instance, just as something may visually appear at once to be both red and round, or to have a red part and a green part, something may multimodally perceptually appear at once to be both bright and loud, or to have a red part and a rough part. The main lesson, I argue, is that perceiving is not just co-consciously seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling at the same time. And perceptual phenomenal character is not on each occasion exhausted by that which is distinctive to or associated with a given modality, along with that which accrues thanks to simple co-consciousness. Not all ways of perceiving are modality specific. I defend this account against three main objections: that singular content theorists avoid my conclusions; that apparent infusion of perceptible features is required for perceptually apparent binding but does not occur intermodally; and that the diversity of objects across modalities makes perceptually apparent intermodal binding rare. (shrink)
This paper presents forms of multimodal perceptual experience that undermine the claim that each aspect of perceptual experience is modality speciﬁc. In particular, it argues against the thesis that all phenomenal character is modality speciﬁc (even making an allowance for co-conscious unity). It concludes that a multimodal perceptual episode may have phenomenal features beyond those that are associated with the speciﬁc modalities.
Frequently, we learn of the locations of things and events in our environment by means of hearing. Hearing, I argue, is a locational mode of perceiving with a robustly spatial phenomenology. I defend three proposals. First, audition furnishes one with information about the locations of things and happenings in one’s environment because auditory experience itself has spatial content—auditory experience involves awareness of space. Second, we hear the locations of things and events by or in hearing the locations of their sounds. (...) Third, we auditorily experience sounds themselves as having relatively stable distal locations. I reject skepticism about spatial audition and auditory experience tracing to Strawson’s Individuals , and suggest that spatial auditory experience grounds a form of perceptual access to objects and events that is critical to negotiating one’s environment. (shrink)
Psychophysics and neuroscience demonstrate that different sensory systems interact and influence each other. Perceiving involves extensive cooperation and coordination among systems associated with sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Nonetheless, it remains unclear in what respects conscious perceptual awareness is multisensory. This paper distinguishes six differing varieties of multisensory awareness, explicates their consequences, and thereby elucidates the multisensory nature of perception. It argues on these grounds that perceptual awareness need not be exhausted by that which is associated with each of (...) the respective sensory modalities along with whatever accrues thanks to simple co-consciousness. (shrink)
Recent work on non-visual modalities aims to translate, extend, revise, or unify claims about perception beyond vision. This paper presents central lessons drawn from attention to hearing, sounds, and multimodality. It focuses on auditory awareness and its objects, and it advances more general lessons for perceptual theorizing that emerge from thinking about sounds and audition. The paper argues that sounds and audition no better support the privacy of perception’s objects than does vision; that perceptual objects are more diverse than an (...) exclusively visual perspective suggests; and that multimodality is rampant. In doing so, it presents an account according to which audition affords awareness as of not just sounds, but also environmental happenings beyond sounds. (shrink)
I argue that sounds are best conceived not as pressure waves that travel through a medium, nor as physical properties of the objects ordinarily thought to be the sources of sounds, but rather as events of a certain kind. Sounds are particular events in which a surrounding medium is disturbed or set into wavelike motion by the activities of a body or interacting bodies. This Event View of sounds provides for a uni- ?ed perceptual account of several pervasive sound phenomena, (...) including transmission through barriers, constructive and destructive interference, and echoes. (shrink)
Is speech special? This paper evaluates the evidence that speech perception is distinctive when compared with non-linguistic auditory perception. It addresses the phenomenology, contents, objects, and mechanisms involved in the perception of spoken language. According to the account it proposes, the capacity to perceive speech in a manner that enables understanding is an acquired perceptual skill. It involves learning to hear language-specific types of ethologically significant sounds. According to this account, the contents of perceptual experience when listening to familiar speech (...) are of a variety that is distinctive to hearing spoken utterances. However, perceiving speech involves neither novel perceptual objects nor a unique perceptual modality. Much of what makes speech special stems from our interest in it. (shrink)
We can discern two opposing viewpoints regarding synesthesia. According to the first, it is an oddity, an outlier, or a disordered condition. According to the second, synesthesia is pervasive, driving creativity, metaphor, or language itself. Which is it? Ultimately, I favor the first perspective, according to which cross-sensory synesthesia is an outlying condition. But the second perspective is not wholly misguided. My discussion has three lessons. First, synesthesia is just one of a variety of effects in which one sense modality (...) causally impacts and reshapes experience associated with another. These effects are utterly common. However, due to their unfamiliarity, and to their conflict with a widespread conception of the role of the senses in perception and perceptual experience, until recently they have been surprising. Second, synesthesia nevertheless must be distinguished from other inter-modal effects that lead to misperception, such as crossmodal illusions. Third, synesthesia also may be distinguished from the potentially much broader class of synesthetic effects, which could be common across the population and within individuals. (shrink)
Despite its admirable bottom-up methodology, Roy Sorensen's Seeing Dark Things (OUP, 2008) raises difficult theoretical questions concerning the metaphysics and perception of absences. Metaphysical difficulties include how to individuate, count, locate, and classify absences, and what determines their features. Perceptual difficulties include how to distinguish experiences of absences and presences, especially when nonveridical, and what subjects contribute to perceptual experience according to Sorensen's causal theory. In addition to articulating these difficulties, this paper also presents and explores, on Sorensen's terms, an (...) alternative account of silence. (shrink)
It is tempting to think that one’s perceptual evidence comprises just what issues from perceiving with each of the respective sensory modalities. However, empirical, rational, and phenomenological considerations show that one’s perceptual evidence can outstrip what one possesses due to perceiving with each separate sense. Some novel perceptual evidence stems from the coordinated use of multiple senses. This paper argues that some perceptual evidence in this respect is distinctively multisensory.
Echo experiences are illusory experiences of ordinary primary sounds. Just as there is no new object that we see at the surface of a mirror, there is no new sound that we hear at a reflecting surface. The sound that we hear as an echo just is the original primary sound, though its perception involves illusions of place, time, and qualities. The case of echoes need not force us to adopt a conception according to which sounds are persisting object-like particulars (...) that travel through space. (shrink)
Paradigms in philosophy and cognitive science until recently have treated perception in typical human beings as relatively fixed and unchanging. Recent research instead supports the claim that perception can be altered over time by training, deliberate practice or mere exposure. If so, we do not all bring to a scene the same stock of perceptual capacities, and our differences are not just deficits or superpowers. This paper describes six questions an account of perceptual learning ought to address, which pose difficult (...) challenges to Kevin Connolly’s (2019) groundbreaking Offloading View of perceptual learning. In light of these questions, it sketches an alternative simple view according to which perceptual learning is acquiring a new or enhanced perceptual capacity in a particular way. The relevant capacity is a capacity perceptually to detect and differentiate a feature, where doing so constitutively if not wholly implicates perception. The relevant way is by means of an independently characterized learning process, rather than by adaptation, pure development, or mere accident. The perceptual change thus results from a smart process – one that is flexible, resilient, and responsive to feedback, rather than rigid, fragile and brute. Such a process can yield perceptual know-how. Thanks to perceptual learning, one comes to know how to perceive, in a sense that means being able to do so. Some specialists hone this to develop perceptual skills that are implicated in expert performance. (shrink)
This paper presents an account of the senses and what differentiates them that is compatible with richly multisensory perception and consciousness. According to this proposal, senses are ways of perceiving. Each sense is a subfaculty that comprises a collection of perceptual capacities. What each sense shares and what differentiates one sense from another is the manner in which those capacities are exercised. Each way of perceiving involves a distinct type of information gathering, individuated by the information it functions to extract (...) and the medium from which it does so. This approach distinguishes the project of characterizing and differentiating senses from that of attributing experiences to sensory modalities. Perceptual experiences are episodes in which perceptual capacities are exer- cised. Conscious perceptual episodes may be ascribed to distinct sensory modalities, according to the manners in which perceptual capacities are deployed on an occasion. According to this account, senses are not exclusive. First, their capacities may overlap. Second, perceptual episodes, including conscious experiences, may belong to multiple senses. Indeed, some episodes require the joint use of several senses. In this account, subjects have only limited first-person knowledge of the senses they employ. (shrink)
Audition, like vision, is a rich source of information about the environment, and we learn a great deal through hearing. Hearing helps us to negotiate oursurroundings, to a degree that is obscured by preoccupation with the visual. Hearing sounds allows us to access music and spoken language, and thus holds strong emotional and communicative interest for humans.
Schellenberg's capacitism maintains that perceptual capacities ground representational content because perceptual capacities can be exercised unsuccessfully. This paper argues against the claim that exercise conditions differ from success conditions such that the relevant perceptual capacities can be exercised unsuccessfully in the way needed to ground representational content.
Hearing and auditory perception are rapidly developing topics in the philosophy of perception. Recent work has focused on characterizing what we hear and on similarities and differences between audition and other modalities. Future work should address how theorizing about audition impacts theorizing about perception more generally. This entry concerns questions about the objects and contents of hearing. It includes discussion of the spatial content of audition, of the role of time and pitch in the individuation of auditory objects, and of (...) audition's role in the perception of speech. (shrink)
Some sounds have pitch, some do not. A tuba’s notes are lower pitched than a ﬂute’s, but the fuzz from an untuned radio has no discernible pitch. Pitch is an attribute in virtue of which sounds that possess it can be ordered from “low” to “high”. Given how audition works, physics has taught us that frequency determines what pitch a sound auditorily appears to have.
I argue that a class of recently-discovered cross-modal illusions gives reason to posit a dimension of content shared across perceptual modalities and to abandon the traditional view according to which perceptual content is exclusively constituted by discrete modality-specific contents.
Sounds and Perception brings together original essays on auditory perception and the nature of sounds - an emerging area of interest in the philosophy of mind and perception, and in the metaphysics of sensible qualities. The essays discuss a wide range of issues, including the nature of sound, the spatial aspects of auditory experience, hearing silence, musical experience, and the perception of speech; a substantial introduction by the editors serves to contextualise the essays and make connections between them. The collection (...) serves both as an introduction to the nature of auditory perception and as the definitive resource for coverage of the main questions that constitute the philosophy of sounds and audition. (shrink)
Casey O’Callaghan has argued that rather than hearing meanings, we hear phonemes. In this note I argue that valuable though they are in an account of speech perception – depending on how we define ‘hearing’ – phonemes either don’t explain enough or they go too far. So, they are not the right tool for his criticism of the semantic perceptual account (SPA).
Is the flavor of mint reducible to the minty smell, the taste, and the menthol-like coolness on the roof of one’s mouth, or does it include something over and above these—something not properly associated with any one of the contributing senses? More generally, are there features of perceptual experiences—so-called novel features—that are not associated with any of our senses taken singly? This question has received a lot of attention of late. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the question (...) of what it means to say that a feature is associated with a sensory modality in the first place. Indeed, there is only one fully developed proposal in the literature, due to Casey O’Callaghan. I argue that this proposal is too permissive to inform the debate over novel features. I go on to argue that all attempts to formulate a better proposal along these lines fail. The corollary of my arguments is that the question of the existence of novel features is poorly formed. Furthermore, the problem generalizes, with the result that we should not rely on our pre-theoretical notions of the senses as the basis of theorizing about the features of perceptual experiences. (shrink)