Depictive seeing and double content

In Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Picturing. Oxford University Press (2010)
A picture provides both configurational content concerning its design features, and recognitional content about its external subject. But how is this possible, since all that a viewer can actually see is the picture's own design? I argue that the most plausible explanation is that a picture's design has a dual function. It both encodes artistically relevant design content, and in turn that design content encodes the subject content of the picture--producing overall a double content structure. Also, it is highly desirable that a resulting double content theory for pictures should be closely integrated with a related double content account of perceptual content generally, so as to avoid suspicions of ad hoc theorizing that would apply only to pictorial content. The resulting theory should also be able to explain the inevitable ambiguities involved in abstracting two levels of visual content from a single visible surface, as well as explaining the systematic relations between the two kinds of content. I provide an orientational theory--based on a recently developed spatial logic of orientational concepts--for this purpose, and show how depictive and perceptual content in general can be usefully explained in these orientational terms. This account of picturing also integrates well with a previously developed, more generic double content theory of art, and it is also plausible in cognitive science terms.
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