Some nice bits to this weekend. Yesterday we went on a walk around the Valley Gardens and Virginia Water with some friends, followed by an impromptu tea in the park at Laleham (a combination of the cooker in one family's VW camper and our camping stove made cooking an option). Then this afternoon I played a round of golf with my two boys. They're just learning so we did the pitch and put at Sandown Park, followed by bashing some balls on the range. It was fun and I hope that in a few years time we'll be playing proper courses.
Just finished editing my chapter for a forthcoming book on wine and philosophy, which is edited by Dr Barry Smith, who as well as being a pro philosopher is also a wine nut. Here's my opening couple of paras:
"The central focus of any philosophical study of wine is the perceptual event that occurs when we ‘sense’ the wine that is in our glass, by sniffing it, or putting it in our mouths, or a combination of these two processes. The goal of this chapter is to explore the nature of this perceptual event from a biological perspective. That is not to say that (largely reductionist) science is the only legitimate way of framing questions about taste; there are limits to the sorts of questions that the scientific method can address. But what biology has to say about the perception of wine is of great use, because its insights can usefully constrain our thinking.
I’ve titled this chapter ‘wine and the brain’, because here I am assuming that the perceptual event of wine ‘tasting’ is one that occurs in the brain, and that it is one and the same as the electrical communication between neurons occurring here as we process the signals generated by our sensory apparatus when we encounter wine. To biologists, this suggestion — that conscious events are explainable in terms of neuronal activity in the brain — is uncontroversial: if they are aware of the mind–body problem at all, biologists frequently assume it has been solved. But I'm not a scientific fundamentalist, and I recognise that the reductionistic language of neurobiology is just one way of approaching the complex subject of conscious awareness, and that it doesn’t necessarily exclude other descriptive approaches. "