Cover: Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind, from Harvard University PressCover: Smellosophy in HARDCOVER


What the Nose Tells the Mind

Product Details


$37.00 • £32.95 • €33.95

ISBN 9780674983694

Publication Date: 07/14/2020

Academic Trade

384 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

8 photos, 9 illus., 1 table


Also Available As

Jacket: Smellosophy

PAPERBACK | $22.95

ISBN 9780674278721

Academic Trade

Add to Cart

Educators: Request an Exam Copy (Learn more)

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

This is a special book… Barwich does philosophy that is empirically directed and historically informed. It teaches readers a lot about olfaction. It teaches us even more about what philosophy can be.—Rachel Fraser, Times Literary Supplement

Lively, authoritative… Aims to rehabilitate smell’s neglected and marginalized status.—Mike Jay, Wall Street Journal

Barwich melds a philosophical perspective with a rich history of olfactory science, tackling big questions with layers of perceptual, psychological, and neurobiological explanations… She offers rich discussions of olfactory perception, the conscious and subconscious impacts of smell on behavior and emotion, and the physical and behavioral details that determine what odors we inhale, furnishing broad insights into the psychology of olfaction.—John P. McGann, Science

Seeks to banish entrenched prejudice against the nose. Barwich…argues that we could discover far more about consciousness if we would only relinquish our old-school fixation on sight… Rather than mapping the external world and constructing an accurate representation of it in the brain, our sense of smell seems to involve a continuous, ever-shifting negotiation between our interior and exterior lives.Harper’s

Fabulous… [A] serious work that [has] brought me a great deal of pleasure.—Victoria Moore, Daily Telegraph

A beguiling analysis of olfactory experience that is fast becoming a core reference work in the field.—Joe Humphreys, Irish Times

Barwich writes with charm and precision about our preconceptions of how the olfactory system works and how it is different from the other sensory mechanisms that keep us alive and (relatively) safe… An illuminating discussion of the interface between the logical coherence of philosophy and the empirical disciplines of science.—Michael Bywater, The Spectator

Makes a strong case for rethinking the scientific study of odor perception… Smellosophy works to shape olfaction studies—and neuroscience writ large.—Nedah N. Nemati, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

Barwich takes us deeper into the human stories, key advances, and dead ends of olfaction science, interspersed with philosophical theory… A timely dispatch from the research trenches, surveying a field in flux.—Barbara Kiser, Issues in Science and Technology

An impressive work… Undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive and accessible studies of olfaction… Barwich brilliantly dovetails psychology with neurophysiology, detailing how olfaction operates by markedly distinct principles of neural representation in comparison with vision, audition, and somatosensation.—Ekin Erkan, Perception

Barwich guides the reader into the fascinating science (both historical and contemporary) of odors and olfaction.—Brad Thompson, Philosophers’ Magazine

A love letter to olfaction. This book effortlessly blends science and philosophy and is a must-read for anyone with a sense of smell.—Leslie B. Vosshall, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The Rockefeller University

Finding out why mint smells different from a skunk’s spray turns out to be a much harder problem than why red looks different from blue. Barwich tells the fascinating story of why the science of smell has gone down many a false trail, and why the sciences of vision and audition made breakthroughs while olfaction remained mired in mystery. Smellosophy taught me a lot about my brain’s smelly world.—Patricia Churchland, author of Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition

A. S. Barwich’s new book, written with passion and infectious delight, unites history, art, philosophy, and in-depth interviews with pioneers in modern olfaction science. The result will enhance every reader’s appreciation for the role of smell in human life.—Gordon M. Shepherd, author of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

Lewis Thomas famously remarked that smell contains ‘all the mysteries’ of biology; figure it out and you will have solved most of them. A. S. Barwich is a superb documentarian of the science behind how the brain detects an enormous range of odorous molecules, while also capturing the wonder of perceiving complex smells that form lasting emotional memories. Smellosophy is a unique and wondrous blend of the science of smell, the art and practice of research, the philosophy of consciousness, and ‘all the mysteries’ in between.—Stuart Firestein, author of Ignorance: How It Drives Science

This is the book on perception we have been waiting for: a scientifically-informed and philosophically astute treatment of our elusive sense of smell. A. S. Barwich skillfully guides us through the history of its study, recent discoveries, and philosophical theorizing about smell, and, in doing so, makes a significant contribution to all three.—Barry C. Smith, Centre for the Study of the Senses, University of London

Well-written and engaging, Smellosophy transforms the breakdown of complex concepts into a really good read. This book is an astonishing integration of all aspects of olfaction, relevant to scientists across disciplines as well as to any reader interested in the aromas of wine, coffee, and other scents hidden in our daily experiences.—Ann Noble, creator of the Wine Aroma Wheel

Barwich brings the curious science of smell to life through interviews with many of its key players. If you relish mysteries and constructing the logic to solve them, read Smellosophy.—Terry Acree, Department of Food Science, Cornell University

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

The Burnout Challenge

On Burnout Today with Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter

In The Burnout Challenge, leading researchers of burnout Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter focus on what occurs when the conditions and requirements set by a workplace are out of sync with the needs of people who work there. These “mismatches,” ranging from work overload to value conflicts, cause both workers and workplaces to suffer