Keith Wilson: The Two Senses of Smell

Dr Keith Wilson (University of Glasgow) speaks at the University of Edinburgh, 25th February 2015. Part of the Philosophy, Psychology and Informatics Reading Group.

Abstract: In an influential paper, Paul Rozin suggests that humans have not one, but two senses of smell: orthonasal and retronasal olfaction. The former involves inhaling external odours via the nose to create what is traditionally thought of as an olfactory or ‘smell’ experience. The latter involves the detection of odourants originating from the mouth and throat, typically while eating, which combine with our sense of taste to flavour experiences (aka ‘taste’). In this paper, I consider how best to understand Rozin’s claim, and what notion, or notions, of a ‘sense’ are in play here, with implications for how we individuate the senses and multisensory experiences more generally.

This research is part of the Rethinking the Senses project funded by the AHRC’s Science in Culture Theme –

Slides for this talk are available at