Grief, smell, & the olfactory air of a person

Becky Millar*, Louise Fiona Richardson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Philosophical research into olfaction often focuses on its limitations. We explore instead an underappreciated capacity of the sense of smell, namely, its role in interpersonal experience. To illustrate this, we examine how smell can enable continuing connections to deceased loved ones. Understanding this phenomenon requires an appreciation of, first, how olfaction’s limitations can facilitate experiences of the deceased person, and second, how olfaction enables experiences of what we refer to as the ‘olfactory air’ of a person. This way of experiencing someone privileges their status as an environmentally situated human animal.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalPacific philosophical quarterly
Early online date14 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Sept 2023

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