“Oral phenomenology” Special Issue of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

Guest Editor: István Aranyosi (Bilkent University)

Csontváry, "Old woman peeling apple", 1894, (detail)

The oral cavity is an anatomical unit most relevant to contemporary approaches in the philosophy and psychology of perception which consider the senses as integrated perceptual systems, and perception as an active phenomenon dependent on such systems (e.g. James Gibson’s influential work in ecological psychology). The mouth is a fine-tuned multi-modal “machine”, capable of participating in and modulating a countless number of types of multimodal experiences, involving interdependent sensations of taste, smell, tactile feel, sound, heat. Sensory properties like flavor, mouthfeel, texture, palatability, are known to be multisensory and highly integrated. The mouth is also fine-tuned to discriminating extremely small solid particles present in various types of orally processed volumes, which makes it the perfect tactile sensor. It is also hypersensitive to the presence of solid particles caught between the teeth, which explains the existence of the oldest specifically hominid and ubiquitous habit of tooth picking, and which lead some physical anthropologists to speculate about language emergence in hominid populations, based on the fact that both this out of proportion sensation and the sensations required for phonation are dependent on the same neural pathways.

There is an emerging interest in interdisciplinary research on the oral cavity, involving food science and sensory psychology, e.g. texture studies, food rheology (flow properties of food under the conditions of forces applied to it in the mouth), food tribology (wear, friction, and salivatory lubrication properties involved in oral food processing), sensory evaluation of food, cognitive penetration of food and drink experiences, phonation and speech perception etc..

This special issue of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences seeks to promote the potential input from philosophy into these and related topics, as well as the potential influence of empirical results established in the above mentioned scientific fields on current philosophical and interdisciplinary debates on oral perception and perception in general. Some suggested topics include:

  • Flavour perception and objective qualities
  • Primary and secondary qualities of food
  • Taste-smell interactions, retronasal olfaction
  • Visual penetration of flavour experience
  • Aural aspect of food texture perception, bone conduction and food sounds
  • Ecological psychology and orally accessible affordances
  • Early developmental oral experience and haptic perception
  • Nutritional, hedonic, and cultural value of food
  • Oral food processing (chewing, tongue action, salivatory lubrication, and deglutition) and the sensorimotor theory of perception
  • Teeth, speech, and speech perception
  • Dental anthropology and the evolution of mind and language
  • Disgust and palatability
  • Novel culinary experiences: progressive, deconstructive and molecular haute cuisine.

There will be a small number of invited contributions, thus leaving a generous space for submitted papers. Invited authors: Fiona Macpherson (Philosophy, Glasgow) Barry C. Smith (Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London) and Charles Spence (Experimental Psychology, Oxford University).


Submission information: Word limit: 8000 words; Deadline for submissions: the 1st of July, 2013; Publication is expected during 2014. Peer review: all submissions will be subject to a double-blind peer review process. Please prepare your submission for blind reviewing. Submissions should be made directly to the journal’s online submission website, indicating: special issue “Oral Phenomenology”. For further details, please check the website of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. For any further questions regarding the special issue please contact István Aranyosi.