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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language as an ordered pair consisting of a set of characters and a function or ‘principle of correlation’ mapping characters on to objects in a domain, the language’s or system’s ‘extension’. Different pictorial symbol systems have different principles of correlation mapping picture-symbols on to the domain. This means that a design denoting one object in one system may refer to something completely different in a second system, or nothing at all in a third. In other words, visually

asser-torically, to elicit beliefs by providing good reasons for them, Walton holds that they must do so by first prescribing imaginings. My picture of the mayor, if it elicits a belief in you, must do so by first prescribing that you imagine seeing the mayor taking a bribe. This, then, is the disanalogy that Walton sees between words and pictures. The assertoric use of words does not depend on their use in make-believe; on the contrary, their use in make-believe depends on their serious use.

as of entirely different objects instead? The example I gave in Chapter 5 was of a fortuitously botched picture whose source was Queen Victoria although it was recognizable as of Divine. It would be wrong to assume that these puzzles are invariably out-landish and exceptional. When artists use models, they bring about a deliberate mismatch between source and recognizable subject. We know that Hendrickje Stoffels served as Rembrandt’s model for Bathsheba. Although Bathsheba is recognizable as

representing ordinary objects pose puzzles about the domain of the relation ‘is a picture of’ and also about the point of pictorial representation. How can a picture depict another? And what could be the meaning of a picture of another? 11.1 Variation Meaning The most conspicuous of the many ways in which pictures represent other pictures is by variation. Whereas allusions are often veiled, and copies, especially in the form of photographic reproductions, are too common to draw attention,

Picasso’s Femmes, most viewers see only a harem scene. It follows that the meaning of a variation to ordinary viewers is its meaning as an ordinary picture, and is exhausted by its ostensible subject-matter. Of course, since pictures themselves are constituents of the visual realm, the claim that they cannot be the ostensible subjects of pictures is surprising and requires substantiation. 11.3 Variation Meaning as Secondary Meaning Richard Wollheim, in Painting as an Art, proffers an account of

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