Understanding Pictures (Oxford Philosophical Monographs)

Understanding Pictures (Oxford Philosophical Monographs)

Dominic Lopes

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: B001GS7MG0

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


There is not one but many ways to picture the world--Australian "x-ray" pictures, cubish collages, Amerindian split-style figures, and pictures in two-point perspective each draw attention to different features of what they represent. Understanding Pictures argues that this diversity is the central fact with which a theory of figurative pictures must reckon. Lopes advances the theory that identifying pictures' subjects is akin to recognizing objects whose appearances have changed over time. He develops a schema for categorizing the different ways pictures represent--the different kinds of meaning they have--and argues that that depiction's epistemic value lies in its representational diversity. He also offers a novel account of the phenomenology of pictorial experience, comparing pictures to visual prostheses like mirrors and binoculars.

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Depiction and Vision 37 PART TWO PICTURES AS SYMBOLS 3 Goodman’s Symbol Theory 55 4 Symbols and Substitutes 77 5 Pictorial Reference 93 PART THREE ASPECT RECOGNITION 6 Pictorial Content 111 7 Pictorial Recognition 136 8 Pictorial Meaning 157 9 Pictorial Experience 174 PART FOUR APPLICATIONS 10 Fictive Pictures 197 11 Picturing Pictures 209 B i b l i o g r a p h y 228 P i c t u r e C r e d i t s 235 I n d e x 237 L I S T O F I L L U S T R AT I O N S 1. Canaletto,

experience of its content and its design. It is tempting to conflate the spectrum of twofoldness with the diverse range of pictorial styles. It would seem that Albertian pictures gravitate towards the illusionistic, and that what Gombrich called ‘conceptual’ pictures gravitate towards the painterly. However, this would be a mistake. An Albertian picture may allow for a twofold experience— I find this to be a strange effect of photo-realist painting—and a non-Albertian one may not. Wollheim

theories which construe pictures as rule-based and conventional. But placing such a heavy burden on possession of the relevant background knowledge for understanding pictures seems to me to render depiction an opaque, mysterious phenomenon. My inclination is to accept this position only in the last resort. 3.5 Competence and Systems The strength of Goodman’s symbol theory of depiction lies in the way it relativizes picturing to systems. A picture represents something as having certain

representationally relevant properties that a system possesses relative to other systems is not what makes it pictorial. 4 Strangely, Goodman sees that repleteness is a matter of degree, and accepts the counter-intuitive conclusion that the pictorial is also a matter of degree. See Goodman, Languages of Art, 230. 114 Aspect Recognition Fred Dretske, in his book Knowledge and the Flow of Information, employs a notion of ‘analog’ representation distinct from Goodman’s (I preserve Dretske’s

painterly effects. Nor does the difference lie in accuracy of content, for photographs can misinform and paintings can be highly accurate. Some theorists have hoped to distinguish photographs from other pictures on the grounds that photographs are the result of mechanical processes, while other pictures are the products of human endeavour.7 This is close, but not quite right—photographs are obviously the products of human intervention in numerous ways. Walton argues that where the mechanical

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