9 May 2019 3pm

Nick Young, University of Milan, Center for the Philosophy of Time

Department of Philosophy Room B7/1140 Campus UAB

This video is part of the PROTEUS project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 758145)



All contemporary accounts of auditory perception accept that we hear temporally extended source events: movements or interactions of material objects which unfold over a certain duration of time. On the vast majority of accounts, source events are heard through the hearing of sounds: we hear the bell strike in virtue of hearing the chime it produces. On a soundless account of audition we simply hear source events without any type of sonic intermediary. The difference between hearing a bell strike and seeing a bell strike is explained not by reference to sounds, but rather as a difference in the way objects are perceived as persisting through time. Specifically, whereas we see events by perceiving the properties of enduring objects to change, we hear events by perceiving objects as perduring. Audio playback presents a challenge to this view: a recording can elicit an auditory experience as of a source event which is not currently occurring, and a natural explanation for this would be to say we hear a sound but not its source. Here, I present an alternative account or hearing recordings which is compatible with soundless audition. Experiences elicited by audio playback are best thought of as a form of temporally extended image perception. First, I argue that hearing recordings has a twofold phenomenological character very similar to that of seeing images. Second, I argue that recordings depict events in time in the same way that pictures depict the shapes of objects in space.


Nick Young is a philosopher of perception currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for the Philosophy of Time at the University of Milan. Much of his research focuses on auditory perception and how it intersects with current philosophical and psychological work on temporally extended perception. He has recently started a new project entitled ‘Time and Emotion’ and is focussing on whether bodily sensations can be thought of as processes which give rise to intentional emotional states.