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Depiction

Edited by Ben Blumson (National University of Singapore)
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Summary Depiction is a distinctive kind of representation. The paradigm examples are figurative painting and drawing. Other purported examples are photography, figurative sculpture and maps. The three main competitors to the traditional resemblance theory of depiction are experiential theories, such as the illusion and seeing-in theories, structural theories, which focus on syntactic and semantic properties of pictures such as analogicity, and recognition theories, which focus on subpersonal aspects of picture processing.
Key works The contemporary debate began with Goodman 1968, who argued for replacing the resemblance theory with a structural theory. Kulvicki 2006 defends a revised structural theory. The original source of the seeing-in theory is contained in Wollheim 1980. Walton 1990 defends a version according to which seeing-in is imagined seeing and Hopkins 1998 defends a version according to which it is experienced resemblance. Schier 1986 is the original source of the recognition theory. Currie 1995, Lopes 1996 and Newall 2011 defend similar accounts. Novitz 1977, Hyman 2006, Abell 2009 and Blumson 2014 defend the resemblance theory, whereas Greenberg 2013 is a recent criticism. Abell & Bantinaki 2010 is a recent anthology.
Introductions Kulvicki 2006 Kulvicki 2013
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  1. Solveig Aasen (2016). Pictures, Presence and Visibility. Philosophical Studies 173 (1):187-203.
    This paper outlines a ‘perceptual account’ of depiction. It centrally contrasts with experiential accounts of depiction in that seeing something in a picture is understood as a visual experience of something present in the picture, rather than as a visual experience of something absent. The experience of a picture is in this respect akin to a veridical rather than hallucinatory perceptual experience on a perceptual account. Thus, the central selling-point of a perceptual account is that it allows taking at face (...)
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  2. C. Abell (2005). McIntosh's Unrealistic Picture of Peacocke and Hopkins on Realistic Pictures. British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (1):64-68.
    I defend Christopher Peacocke's and Robert Hopkins's experienced resemblance accounts of depiction against criticisms put forward by Gavin McIntosh in a recent article in this journal. I argue that, while there may be reasons for rejecting Peacocke's and Hopkins's accounts, McIntosh fails to provide any.
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  3. C. Abell & K. Bantinaki (eds.) (2010). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
    This volume of specially written essays by leading philosophers offers to set the agenda for the philosophy of depiction.
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  4. Catharine Abell (2013). Expression in the Representational Arts. American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):23-36.
    Understanding a work of representational art involves more than simply grasping what it represents. We can distinguish at least three types of content that representational works may possess. First, all representational works have explicit representational content. This includes the literal content of a linguistic work and the depictive content of a pictorial work. Second, they often have a conveyed content, which outstrips their explicit representational content, including much that is merely implicit in the work, and may exclude certain aspects of (...)
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  5. Catharine Abell (2010). Cinema as a Representational Art. British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (3):273-286.
    In this paper, I develop a unified account of cinematic representation as primary depiction. On this account, cinematic representation is a distinctive form of depiction, unique in its capacity to depict temporal properties. I then explore the consequences of this account for the much-contested question of whether cinema is an independent representational art form. I show that it is, and that Scruton’s argument to the contrary relies on an erroneous conception of cinematic representation. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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  6. Catharine Abell (2010). The Epistemic Value of Photographs. In Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press
    There is a variety of epistemic roles to which photographs are better suited than non-photographic pictures. Photographs provide more compelling evidence of the existence of the scenes they depict than non-photographic pictures. They are also better sources of information about features of those scenes that are easily overlooked. This chapter examines several different attempts to explain the distinctive epistemic value of photographs, and argues that none is adequate. It then proposes an alternative explanation of their epistemic value. The chapter argues (...)
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  7. Catharine Abell (2010). Of Photographs. In Catharine Abell Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. 81.
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  8. Catharine Abell (2009). Canny Resemblance. Philosophical Review 118 (2):183-223.
    Depiction is the form of representation distinctive of figurative paintings, drawings, and photographs. Accounts of depiction attempt to specify the relation something must bear to an object in order to depict it. Resemblance accounts hold that the notion of resemblance is necessary to the specification of this relation. Several difficulties with such analyses have led many philosophers to reject the possibility of an adequate resemblance account of depiction. This essay outlines these difficulties and argues that current resemblance accounts succumb to (...)
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  9. Catharine Abell (2007). Pictorial Realism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):1 – 17.
    I propose a number of criteria for the adequacy of an account of pictorial realism. Such an account must: explain the epistemic significance of realistic pictures; explain why accuracy and detail are salient to realism; be consistent with an accurate account of depiction; and explain the features of pictorial realism. I identify six features of pictorial realism. I then propose an account of realism as a measure of the information pictures provide about how their objects would look, were one to (...)
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  10. Catharine Abell (2005). On Outlining the Shape of Depiction. Ratio 18 (1):27–38.
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  11. Catharine Abell (2005). Pictorial Implicature. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (1):55–66.
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  12. Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.) (2010). Philosophical Perspectives on Picturing. Oxford University Press.
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  13. Thomas Richards Vartan Adajian (1993). Imagination, Games, Pictures: A Critical Examination of Kendall Walton's "Mimesis as Make-Believe". Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    I critically examine Kendall Walton's Mimesis as Make-Believe, a systematic attempt to model the activities of appreciators of works of art on children's games of make-believe. I argue that crucial features of the games Walton takes as paradigms infect and distort his application of the model to aesthetic questions. Walton's account of pictorial depiction and his extension of the basic game model to dreams and daydreams are argued to be unsuccessful.
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  14. Zed Adams (2009). On Images: Their Structure and Content by Kulvicki, John. [REVIEW] Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (3):336-339.
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  15. Zed Adams (2007). The Objective Eye: Color, Form, and Reality in the Theory of Art by Hyman, John. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65 (4):417–419.
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  16. Douglas Albion (1994). Pictures for Poems. Literature & Aesthetics 4:66-67.
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  17. Virgil C. Aldrich (1980). Mirrors, Pictures, Words, Perceptions: Virgil C. Aldrich. Philosophy 55 (211):39-56.
    We already have a distinction between the intension and extension of terms . This is not simply the distinction that is operative in philosophy of mind, body, and action. There, the concern is with things, and with a physicalistic or a mentalistic account of them. The physicalist says he supports an ‘extensional’ analysis of things, the mentalist an ‘intensional’. So, the physicalist says that, in the end, only ‘the extensional language of physical science’ will do in ontology. But, associating this (...)
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  18. Virgil C. Aldrich (1980). Mirrors, Pictures, Words, Perceptions. Philosophy 55 (211):39 - 56.
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  19. Virgil C. Aldrich (1958). Picture Space. Philosophical Review 67 (3):342-352.
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  20. Virgil C. Aldrich (1948). Language, Experience, and Pictorial Meaning. Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):85-95.
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  21. Emmanuel Alloa (2015). The Most Sublime of All Laws: The Strange Resurgence of a Kantian Motif in Contemporary Image Politics. Critical Inquiry 41 (2):367-389.
    In recent years, the claim of the unrepresentability of the Shoah has stirred vivid debates, especially following the strong positions taken by the French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann and author of Shoah (1986). This claim of unrepresentability, it can be shown, draws part of its attraction from the fact that it oscillates undecidedly between a claim of logical impossibility (“the Shoah can’t be represented”) and a normative demand (“the Shoah shouldn’t be represented”). This essay analyzes the argumentative structure of the advocates (...)
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  22. Emmanuel Alloa (2015). Could Perspective Ever Be a Symbolic Form? Revisiting Panofsky with Cassirer. Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology 2 (1):51-72.
    Erwin Panofsky’s essay “Perspective as Symbolic Form” from 1924 is among the most widely commented essays in twentieth-century aesthetics and was discussed with regard to art theory, Renaissance painting, Western codes of depiction, history of optical devices, psychology of perception, or even ophthalmology. Strangely enough, however, almost nothing has been written about the philosophical claim implicit in the title, i.e. that perspective is a symbolic form among others. The article situates the essay within the intellectual constellation at Aby Warburg’s Kulturwissenschaftliche (...)
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  23. Emmanuel Alloa (2015). Iconic Turn. A Plea for Three Turns of the Screw. Culture, Theory, and Critique 56 (3).
    In the early 1990s, W.J.T. Mitchell and Gottfried Boehm independently proclaimed that the humanities were witnessing a ‘pictorial’ or ‘iconic turn’. Twenty years later, we may wonder whether this announcement was describing an event that had already taken place or whether it was rather calling forth for it to happen. The contemporary world is, more than ever, determined by visual artefacts. Still, our conceptual arsenal, forged during centuries of logocentrism, still falls behind the complexity of pictorial meaning. The essay has (...)
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  24. Emmanuel Alloa (2013). Visual Studies in Byzantium. A Pictorial Turn Avant la Lettre. Journal of Visual Culture 12 (1):3-29.
    As Hegel once said, in Byzantium, between homoousis and homoiousis, the difference of one letter could decide the life and death of thousands. As this article seeks to argue, Byzantine thinking was not only attentive to conceptual differences, but also to iconic ones. The iconoclastic controversy (726-842 AD) arose from two different interpretations of the nature of images: whereas iconoclastic philosophy is based on the assumption of a fundamental 'iconic identity', iconophile philosophy defends the idea of'iconic difference'. And while the (...)
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  25. Emmanuel Alloa (2011). Seeing-in, Seeing-as, Seeing-With: Looking Through Pictures. In Elisabeth Nemeth, Richard Heinrich, Wolfram Pichler & Wagner David (eds.), Image and Imaging in Philosophy, Science, and the Arts. Volume I. Proceedings of the 33rd International Wittgenstein Symposium. Ontos: 179-190
    In the constitution of contemporary image theory, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy has undoubtedly become a major conceptual reference. Rather than trying to establish what Wittgenstein’s own image theory could possibly look like, this paper would like to critically assess some of the advantages as well as some of the quandaries that arise when using Wittgenstein’s concept of ‘seeing-as’ for addressing the plural realities of images. While putting into evidence the tensions that come into play when applying what was initially a theory (...)
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  26. Emmanuel Alloa (2010). Bildwissenschaft in Byzanz. Ein iconic turn avant la lettre? Studia Philosophica 69:11-36.
    As Hegel once said, in Byzantium, between homoousis and homoiousis, the difference of one letter could decide over the life and death of thousands. As the present essay would like to argue, Byzantine thinking was not only attentive to conceptual, but also to iconic differences. The iconoclastic controversy arose from two different interpretations of the nature of images: whereas iconoclastic philosophy is based on the assumption of a fundamental ‘iconic identity’, iconophile philosophy defends the idea of ‘iconic difference’. While the (...)
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  27. Emmanuel Alloa (2010). Changer de sens. Quelques effets du tournant iconique. Critique 758 (8):647-658.
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  28. Wittgenstein Anew & Art Scene (2010). ABELL, CATHERINE and BANTINAKI, KATERINA (Eds). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction.(Oxford: Oxford University Press). 2010. Pp. 256.£ 40.00 (Hbk). BENJAMIN, ANDREW. Of Jews and Animals.(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press). 2010. Pp. 224.£ 65.00 (Hbk). [REVIEW] British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (4).
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  29. John Armstrong (2006). Depiction and the Sense of Reality. Contemporary Aesthetics 4.
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  30. John Armstrong (1997). Non-Depicted Content and Pictorial Ambition. British Journal of Aesthetics 37 (4):336-348.
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  31. John Armstrong (1996). Looking at Pictures an Introduction to the Appreciation of Art.
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  32. Rudolf Arnheim (1974). Hansen's Curvilinear Perspective. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 32 (3):424.
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  33. Kent Bach (1970). Part of What a Picture Is. British Journal of Aesthetics 10 (2):119-137.
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  34. George Bailey (1993). Pictorial Quotation. International Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):1-8.
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  35. K. Bantinaki (2008). Review: John V. Kulvicki: On Images: Their Structure and Content. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (466):486-490.
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  36. Katerina Bantinaki (2014). What is a Picture? Depiction, Realism, Abstraction, by Michael Newall. Mind 123 (491):944-947.
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  37. Katerina Bantinaki (2012). Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):114 - 118.
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 26, Issue 1, Page 114-118, March 2012.
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  38. Katerina Bantinaki (2010). Pictorial Perception as Twofold Experience. In Catharine Abell Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. OUP Oxford
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  39. Katerina Bantinaki (2008). The Opticality of Pictorial Representation. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (2):183–192.
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  40. Katerina Bantinaki (2007). Pictorial Perception as Illusion. British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (3):268-279.
    The focus of this paper is on E. H. Gombrich's claim that pictorial perception is a case of illusion. My aim is to point out that, on the one hand, the interpretation of this claim that is widely accepted in pictorial theory is not supported by Gombrich's analysis of pictorial perception; and, on the other hand, that the interpretation of the claim that I see as more compatible with Gombrich's analysis is not consistent with relevant facts about our relation to (...)
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  41. Katerina Bantinaki (2006). Review of Dominic Mciver Lopes, Sight and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (4).
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  42. Axel Barceló Aspeitia (2012). Words and Images in Argumentation. Argumentation 26 (3):355-368.
    Abstract In this essay, I will argue that images can play a substantial role in argumentation: exploiting information from the context, they can contribute directly and substantially to the communication of the propositions that play the roles of premises and conclusion. Furthermore, they can achieve this directly, i.e. without the need of verbalization. I will ground this claim by presenting and analyzing some arguments where images are essential to the argumentation process. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s10503-011-9259-y Authors (...)
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  43. Karen Bardsley, Out of Sight : Resemblance, Illusion and Cinematic Perception.
    In my thesis I develop a theory of our mental, physiological and emotional involvement with motion pictures that accounts for the distinct role of perception in our cinematic experiences. In particular, I present a (limited) resemblance view of cinematic perception and depiction that begins with an analysis of motion picture screenings as events in the world to which audience members share perceptual access and to which we can attribute complex visual and auditory properties. By understanding the precise nature of these (...)
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  44. J. D. Bastable (1959). Pictorial History of Philosophy. Philosophical Studies 9:269-270.
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  45. David N. Beauregard (2000). Picture, Image and Experience. International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (3):382-383.
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  46. Andras Benedek & Kristof Nyiri (eds.) (2013). How To Do Things With Pictures: Skill, Practice, Performance. Peter Lang Edition.
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  47. John G. Bennett (1974). Depiction and Convention. The Monist 58 (2):255-268.
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  48. John Gates Bennett (1975). On the Nature of Pictorial Representation. Dissertation, University of Michigan
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  49. Geoffrey Bennington & Ian McLeod (eds.) (1987). The Truth in Painting. University of Chicago Press.
    "The four essays in this volume constitute Derrida's most explicit and sustained reflection on the art work as pictorial artifact, a reflection partly by way of philosophical aesthetics, partly by way of a commentary on art works and art scholarship. The illustrations are excellent, and the translators, who clearly see their work as both a rendering and a transformation, add yet another dimension to this richly layered composition. Indispensable to collections emphasizing art criticism and aesthetics."—Alexander Gelley, _Library Journal_.
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  50. Jiri Benovsky (forthcoming). Depiction and Imagination. SATS: Northern European Journal of Philosophy.
    Depiction and imagination are intimately linked. In this article, I discuss the role imagination (as well as inference and knowledge/belief) plays in depiction, with a focus on photographic depiction. I partly embrace a broadly Waltonian view, but not always, and not always for Walton's own reasons. In Walton's view, imagination plays a crucial role in depiction. I consider the objection to his view that not all cases of depiction involve imagination – for instance, documentary photographs. From this discussion, two points (...)
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