ORIGINAL

We have far more than five senses

6 minutes

Romanticism: poetry and philosophy

20 minutes

Forms (process)

2 minutes

Men

17 minutes

The hairy Nobel

13 minutes

Aristotle was wrong and so are we: there are far more than five senses

Scientists have long known that there’s much more to our experience than the five senses (or ‘outward wits’) described by Aristotle – hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste. Yet the myth of five senses persists, perhaps because a clearer understanding of our sensory experience at the neurological level has only recently started to take shape. In this instalment of Aeon’s In Sight series, the British philosopher Barry C Smith argues that the multisensory view of human experience that’s currently emerging in neuroscience could make philosophising about our senses much more accurate, and richer, allowing philosophers to complement the work of scientists in important ways. But first, philosophy must catch up to the major advances being made in brain science.

Barry Smith hosted a sensory workshop, called ‘Wine Tasting and Philosophy’, at HowTheLightGetsIn London, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, and a friend of Aeon, this September. Participants were taken on a ride through the weird world of the senses, meditating on the scent, touch, and taste of wine, sweets, coffee beans and more. HowTheLightGetsIn returns to Hay-on-Wye, Wales, next May for more philosophical fun. Tickets are available here: howthelightgetsin.org/hay

Producer: Kellen Quinn

Interviewer: Nigel Warburton

Editor: Adam D’Arpino

Assistant Editor: Daphne Rustow

What can the Romantics teach us about confronting modern problems?

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
From ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’ (1798) by William Wordsworth

The Romantic thinkers, poets, composers and artists valued emotion over reason. Reacting to the Enlightenment’s emphasis on rationalism, they embraced Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s dim view of modernity, expressed in The Social Contract (1762), that ‘Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ This analysis from the UK video essayist Lewis Waller uses three poems to trace Romanticism across three key movements – the writings of Francophone thinkers including Rousseau, the work of English poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and the ideas of German philosophers, including F W J von Schelling and Friedrich Schlegel. In examining this artistic and intellectual history, Walker draws out several ways in which Romanticism offers a valuable humanistic perspective on urgent contemporary questions, including the climate crisis and poverty. Read more on the need for a new Romanticism in the face of scientism here.

Director: Lewis Waller

Video by Then & Now

Behold the invisible swoosh and swirl of athletic movement in digital art

Forms is a collaboration between the London-based visual artists Memo Akten and Davide Quayolas, and it generates dynamic digital art from the bodies of world-class athletes at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Inspired by modernist and early photographic interrogations of bodies in motion, such as Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2 (1912), the project, in Akten’s words, plays with ‘abstract forms, visualising unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict – between the body and its surroundings’. Forms (Process) demonstrates the relationship between the source video imagery and the project’s resulting animations. Watch an excerpt from the final version of Forms here, and learn more about the inspiration behind the piece in this Twitter thread from Akten.

Video by Memo Akten, Quayola

As a debauched weekend comes to its end, a strange grace settles over these young men

A group of young men head out to the woods. They dance around a fire. They ingest mind-altering substances. They shoot sparks into the night sky. They commune with each other. With his documentary Men, the US filmmaker Dane Mainella drops us into the midst of a ritual that is as ancient as it is banal – 20something-year-old male friends having fun. Mainella traces the hours with a suitably dizzying approach, using loose vérité camerawork and abrupt, time-jumping edits to careen through the revelry – or periodically pause on moments of fumbling towards expressions of friendship. The result is an immersive and unvarnished invitation to a party that is both an awkward American show of immature masculinity as it is a timeless tradition of bonding between men.

Director: Dane Mainella

‘The secrets of exotic matter’ revealed by the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to David J Thouless, F Duncan M Haldane and J Michael Kosterlitz for their ‘theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter’ that ‘revealed the secrets of exotic matter’. If that sounds massively difficult to comprehend – you’re right, it is. But, as this collaboration between the French filmmaker Charlotte Arene and the research team Physics Reimagined (at the University of Paris-Saclay) shows, sometimes complex and seemingly obscure discoveries can have consequences well beyond the walls of a laboratory. With a distinctive, shapeshifting animated style, The Hairy Nobel combs through the surprisingly fascinating history of topological insulators, including how their discovery cascaded into breakthroughs in several fields of research, including electronics, superconductors and quantum computers – and prompted a new one.

Director: Charlotte Arene

Aristotle was wrong and so are we: there are far more than five senses

Scientists have long known that there’s much more to our experience than the five senses (or ‘outward wits’) described by Aristotle – hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste. Yet the myth of five senses persists, perhaps because a clearer understanding of our sensory experience at the neurological level has only recently started to take shape. In this instalment of Aeon’s In Sight series, the British philosopher Barry C Smith argues that the multisensory view of human experience that’s currently emerging in neuroscience could make philosophising about our senses much more accurate, and richer, allowing philosophers to complement the work of scientists in important ways. But first, philosophy must catch up to the major advances being made in brain science.

Barry Smith hosted a sensory workshop, called ‘Wine Tasting and Philosophy’, at HowTheLightGetsIn London, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, and a friend of Aeon, this September. Participants were taken on a ride through the weird world of the senses, meditating on the scent, touch, and taste of wine, sweets, coffee beans and more. HowTheLightGetsIn returns to Hay-on-Wye, Wales, next May for more philosophical fun. Tickets are available here: howthelightgetsin.org/hay

Producer: Kellen Quinn

Interviewer: Nigel Warburton

Editor: Adam D’Arpino

Assistant Editor: Daphne Rustow

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