Edited by Ben Blumson (National University of Singapore)
About this topic
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. V. 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 2009 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
Related categories

717 found
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  1. added 2019-02-13
    Depiction.John Hyman & Katerina Bantinaki - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  2. added 2019-02-12
    The Pleasure of Pictures: Pictorial Experience and Aesthetic Appreciation.Jérôme Pelletier & Alberto Voltolini (eds.) - 2018 - Routledge.
  3. added 2019-02-12
    How to Paint Nothing? Pictorial Depiction of Levinasian Il y a in Vilhelm Hammershøi’s Interior Paintings.Harri Mäcklin - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology 5 (1):15-29.
    Contemporary phenomenological discussions on relationship between painting and nothingness have mainly employed Sartrean and Heideggerian notions of nothingness. In this paper, I propose another perspective by discussing the possibility of pictorially depicting Levinas’s notion of the nothingness of being, which he develops in his early works in terms of the il y a. For Levinas, the il y a intimates itself in moments like insomnia, where the world as a horizon of possibilities slips away and all there is left is (...)
  4. added 2019-02-12
    Creating Images With the Stroke of a Hand: Depiction of Size and Shape in Sign Language.Jenny C. Lu & Susan Goldin-Meadow - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
  5. added 2019-02-12
    Husserl and Dufrenne on the Temporalization of the Pictorial Space.Javier Enrique Carreño Cobos - 2018 - Anuario Filosófico 51 (2):301-323.
  6. added 2019-02-12
    Language as Description, Indication, and Depiction.Lindsay Ferrara & Gabrielle Hodge - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
  7. added 2019-02-12
    Pictorial turn. Una risposta.William J. T. Mitchell - 2012 - Lebenswelt: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Experience 2:130-143.
  8. added 2019-02-12
    Seeing What Is Not There: Pictorial Experience, Imagination, and Non-Localization.Mikael Pettersson - 2011 - British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (3):279–294.
    Pictures let us see what is not there. Or rather, since what pictures depict is not really there, we do not really see the things they are pictures of. Ever since Richard Wollheim introduced the notion of seeing-in into philosophical aesthetics, as part of his theory of depiction, there has been a lively debate about how, precisely, to understand this experience. However, one (alleged) feature of seeing-in that Wollheim pointed to has been almost completely absent in the subsequent discussion, namely (...)
  9. added 2019-02-12
    Sense and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures by Dominic Lopes.Jason Gaiger - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (3):447-451.
  10. added 2019-02-12
    Sight and Sensibility. Evaluating Pictures.Dominic M. Mciver Lopes - 2006 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (2):434-434.
  11. added 2019-02-12
    The Logic Structure of Pictorial Representation.Paul Crowthre - 1994 - Filozofski Vestnik 15 (2).
    This paper articulates the logical structure of pictorial representation, through an interpretation and defence of the role of resemblance. As a means to this, the discussion critically engages with existing theories, notably those of Schier, Goodman, and Margolis. The fundamental argument of the essay is that what makes pictorial representation logically distinctive is the fact that, once learned, it can be applied without recourse to ad hoc external conventions. Such conventions are required in order to secure exact denotation, but for (...)
  12. added 2019-02-12
    Moving Pictures.Henry P. Raleigh & Anne Hollander - 1992 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 26 (2):113.
  13. added 2019-02-12
    Studies in Knowledge Representation : Modeling Change - the Frame Problem : Pictures and Words.Lars-Erik Janlert - 1985 - Dissertation, Umeå Universitet
    In two studies, the author attempts to develop a general symbol theoretical approach to knowledge representation. The first study, Modeling change - the frame problem, critically examines the - so far unsuccessful - attempts to solve the notorious frame problem. By discussing and analyzing a number of related problems - the prediction problem, the revision problem, the qualification problem, and the book-keeping problem - the frame problem is distinguished as the problem of finding a representational form permitting a changing, complex (...)
  14. added 2019-01-30
    Resemblance and Representation: An Essay in the Philosophy of Pictures, by Ben Blumson: Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2014, Pp. Ix + 209, £17.95. [REVIEW]Roberto Casati - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):603-606.
  15. added 2019-01-07
    Threefold Pictorial Experience and Aesthetic Attitude.Regina-Nino Mion - 2018 - In Jérôme Pelletier & Alberto Voltolini (eds.), The Pleasure of Pictures: Pictorial Experience and Aesthetic Appreciation. Routledge. pp. 107–124.
    The paper discusses Edmund Husserl’s threefold pictorial experience and the threefold aesthetic experience of pictures accordingly. It aims to show what the advantages are of the threefold account of pictorial experience, in contrast to the twofold account, to explain aesthetic experience. More specifically, it explains the role of the image object’s fold in aesthetic experience. The paper is divided into three parts. The first part explains and defends Husserl’s theory of threefold pictorial experience, which is an experience of seeing-in or, (...)
  16. added 2018-12-25
    The Complexities of ‘Abstracting’ From Nature.Andrew Inkpin - 2012 - In Paul Crowther & Isabel Wünsche (eds.), Meanings of Abstract Art: From Nature to Theory. London: Routledge. pp. 255-269.
    This paper considers what it is to abstract from nature. Using examples from painting its first part examines the traditional contrast between abstraction and naturalistic representation, arguing that this relies on a specifically visual notion of representation, but not on what is natural or what is abstract. Its second part discusses examples from land art in which natural elements are incorporated in an artwork’s structure. An alternative view of modern art’s representational possibilities is outlined which highlights limitations of the specifically (...)
  17. added 2018-12-20
    On Looking Through Wollheim’s Bifocals: Depiction, Twofolded Seeing and the Trompe-L’Œil.Gary Kemp - 2018 - British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (4):435-447.
    Richard Wollheim was hardly alone in supposing that his account of pictorial depiction implies that a trompe-l’œil is not a depiction. I recommend removing this apparent implication by inserting a Kant-style version of aspect-perception into his account. I characterize the result as Neo-Wollheimian and retain the centrality of Wollheim’s notion of twofoldedness in the theory of depiction, but I demote it to a contingent feature of depictions and I criticize his employment of it for determining the category of both the (...)
  18. added 2018-11-30
    Facing the Camera: Self‐Portraits of Photographers as Artists.Dawn M. Wilson - 2012 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1):56-66.
    Self-portrait photography presents an elucidatory range of cases for investigating the relationship between automatism and artistic agency in photography— a relationship that is seen as a problem in the philosophy of art. I discuss self-portraits by photographers who examine and portray their own identities as artists working in the medium of photography. I argue that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is (...)
  19. added 2018-10-28
    The Realistic Angel: Pictorial Realism as Hypothetical Verity.Christopher Buckman - 2015 - Aesthetic Investigations 1 (1):49-58.
    My main objective in this paper is to formulate a view of pictorial realism I call ‘hypothetical verity’. It owes much to John Kulvicki but diverges from his view in an important respect: rather than thinking that realistic pictures are true to our conceptions of things, I hold that they are true to what things would be like if they existed. In addition, I agree with Dominic Lopes that different realisms reflect different aspects of reality, but restate the case without (...)
  20. added 2018-10-28
    Wittgenstein su immagini e linguaggio: elementi per la comprensione delle rappresentazioni pittoriche.Elisa Caldarola - 2013 - In Elisa Caldarola, Davide Quattrocchi & Gabriele Tomasi (eds.), Wittgenstein, l’estetica e le arti. Roma - Bari: Carocci.
  21. added 2018-10-28
    La rappresentazione pittorica.Elisa Caldarola - 2010 - Aesthetica Preprint 2010:11-19.
  22. added 2018-10-28
    Pictorial Representation and Abstract Pictures.Elisa Caldarola - 2010 - Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics 2:46-61.
  23. added 2018-10-19
    The Checker-Shadow “Illusion”?Hanoch Ben-Yami - manuscript
    I introduce some distinctions concerning depiction and show that the checker-shadow phenomenon is not an illusion of the kind it is claimed to be. This might also help to think more clearly about other ‘illusory’ phenomena.
  24. added 2018-09-22
    Philosophical Pictures From Philosopher Portraits.John Dilworth - manuscript
    Portraits of Wittgenstein and Hume are used as test cases in some preliminary investigations of a new kind of philosophical picture. Such pictures are produced via a variety of visual transformations of the original portraits, with a final selection for display and discussion being based on the few results that seem to have some interesting relevance to the character or philosophical views of the philosopher in question.
  25. added 2018-08-20
    Machines for Living: Philosophy of Technology and the Photographic Image.Ryan Wittingslow - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Sydney
    This dissertation examines the relationship that exists between two distinct and seemingly incompatible bodies of scholarship within the field of contemporary philosophy of technology. The first, as argued by postmodern pragmatist Barry Allen, posits that our tools and what we make with them are epistemically important; disputing the idea that knowledge is strictly sentential or propositional, he claims instead that knowledge is the product of a performance that is both superlative and artefactual, rendering technology importantly world-constituting. The second, as argued (...)
  26. added 2018-07-24
    Proti primitivismu: Gombrichova kritika moderního umění.Tomas Hribek - 2009 - In Ladislav Kesner & František Mikš (eds.), Gombrich: porozumět umění a jeho dějinám. Brno, Česko: pp. 117-163.
  27. added 2018-07-18
    Substitution by Image: The Very Idea.Jakub Stejskal - 2019 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (1):55-66.
    The aim of this article is to provide a plausible conceptual model of a specific use of images described as substitution in recent art-historical literature. I bring to light the largely implicit shared commitments of the art historians’ discussion of substitution, each working as they do in a different idiom, and I draw consequences from these commitments for the concept of substitution by image—the major being the distinction between nonportraying substitution and substitution by portrayal. I then develop an argument that (...)
  28. added 2018-07-03
    Depiction.John Kulvicki - 2014 - In Michael Kelly (ed.), Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, second edition. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. Volume 2, 322-326.
  29. added 2018-07-03
    Michael Newall: What is a Picture? [REVIEW]John Kulvicki - 2012 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2012.
  30. added 2018-07-03
    Twofoldness and Visual Awareness.John Kulvicki - 2011 - In Klaus Sachs-Hombach & Rainer Totzke (eds.), Bilder - Sehen - Denken. Cologne, Germany: Herbert von Halem Verlang. pp. 66-92.
  31. added 2018-06-05
    Twofoldness and Three-Layeredness in Pictorial Representation.Alberto Voltolini - 2018 - Estetika 55 (1):89-111.
    In this essay, I defend a Wollheimian account of a twofold picture perception. While I agree with Wollheim’s objectors that a picture involves three layers that qualify a picture in its complexity -- its vehicle, what is seen in it, and its subject --, I argue that the third layer does not involve perception, even indirectly: what is seen in a picture constrains its subject to be a subject of a certain kind, yet it does not force the latter to (...)
  32. added 2018-06-05
    Imagination, Perception and Memory. Making Sense of Walton’s View on Photographs and Depiction.Paloma Atencia-Linares - 2017 - Azafea: Revista de Filosofia 19:251-268.
    Walton has controversially claimed that all pictures are fiction because, in seeing a picture one imagines that one is seeing the depicted content in the flesh; and that in seeing a photograph one _literally – _although indirectly – _sees_ the photographed object. Philosophers have found these claims implausible for various reasons: it is not the case that all pictures are fiction; explaining depiction does not require an imaginative engagement and seeing objects in photographs is not tantamount to seeing the object. (...)
  33. added 2018-06-05
    Are Pictures Peculiar Objects of Perception?Gabriele Ferretti - 2017 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (3):372-393.
  34. added 2018-06-05
    Can a Single Still Picture Tell a Story? Definitions of Narrative and the Alleged Problem of Time with Single Still Pictures.Klaus Speidel - 2013 - Diegesis. Interdisciplinary E-Journal for Narrative Research / Interdisziplinäres E-Journal Für Er-Zählforschung 2 (1):173--194.
    That the same story can be told in different media is one of the fundamental claims of narratology. Claude Bremond famously listed verbal narrative, novels, theater, movies and ballet among potential vehicles for story. He thus prepared the ground for narratology’s future as a discipline engaged in narrative research across media, in principle including single still pictures. However, narratological research concerned with pictorial narrativity generally proceeds from the assumption that although single pictures may evoke or imply stories, they are unsuitable (...)
  35. added 2018-06-05
    Ernst H. Gombrich, Pictorial Representation, and Some Issues in Art Education.Nanyoung Kim - 2004 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 38 (4):32.
  36. added 2018-06-05
    Shadows and EnlightenmentShadows: The Depiction of Cast Shadows in Western Art.David Carrier, Michael Baxandall & E. H. Gombrich - 1996 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54 (2):200.
  37. added 2018-06-05
    The Image and the Eye: Further Studies in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation.Ronald N. MacGregor & Ernst H. Gombrich - 1985 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 19 (4):118.
  38. added 2018-05-17
    Against Depictive Conventionalism.Catharine Abell - 2005 - American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (3):185 - 197.
    In this paper, I discuss the influential view that depiction, like language, depends on arbitrary conventions. I argue that this view, however it is elaborated, is false. Any adequate account of depiction must be consistent with the distinctive features of depiction. One such feature is depictive generativity. I argue that, to be consistent with depictive generativity, conventionalism must hold that depiction depends on conventions for the depiction of basic properties of a picture’s object. I then argue that two considerations jointly (...)
  39. added 2018-05-06
    Art as Alchemy: The Bildobjekt Interpretation of Pictorial Illusion.Jens Dam Ziska - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (2):225-234.
    I argue that if we read E. H. Gombrich's Art and Illusion with the charity that it deserves, we will find a much subtler theory of depiction than the illusion theory that is usually attributed to Gombrich. Instead of suggesting that pictures are illusory because they cause us to have experiences as of seeing the depicted objects face to face, I argue that Art and Illusion is better read as making the point that naturalistic pictures are illusory because they cause (...)
  40. added 2018-03-29
    Book Review. Picture, Image and Experience: A Philosophical Inquiry Robert Hopkins. [REVIEW]Alessandro Giovannelli - 2001 - Mind 110 (438):481-485.
  41. added 2018-03-24
    True Grid.Barry Smith - 2001 - In D. Montello (ed.), Spatial Information Theory: Foundations of Geographic Information Science. New York: Springer. pp. 14-27.
    The Renaissance architect, moral philosopher, cryptographer, mathematician, Papal adviser, painter, city planner and land surveyor Leon Battista Alberti provided the theoretical foundations of modern perspective geometry. Alberti’s work on perspective exerted a powerful influence on painters of the stature of Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci and Piero della Francesca. But his Della pittura of 1435–36 contains also a hitherto unrecognized ontology of pictorial projection. We sketch this ontology, and show how it can be generalized to apply to representative devices in (...)
  42. added 2018-03-20
    Play Ergo Sum. Un'analisi del videogioco tra finzione, identità e trasporto.Manuel Maximilian Riolo - 2016 - Rome: UniversItalia Editrice.
  43. added 2018-03-20
    Play Ergo Sum. Un'analisi del videogioco tra finzione, identità e trasporto.Manuel Maximilian Riolo - 2016 - Rome: UniversItalia Editrice.
  44. added 2018-02-18
    The Objective Eye: Color, Form, and Reality in the Theory of Art.John Hyman - 2006 - University of Chicago Press.
    “The longer you work, the more the mystery deepens of what appearance is, or how what is called appearance can be made in another medium."—Francis Bacon, painter This, in a nutshell, is the central problem in the theory of art. It has fascinated philosophers from Plato to Wittgenstein. And it fascinates artists and art historians, who have always drawn extensively on philosophical ideas about language and representation, and on ideas about vision and the visible world that have deep philosophical roots. (...)
  45. added 2018-02-17
    What Drawing Draws On: The Relevance of Current Vision Research.Patrick Maynard - 2011 - Rivista di Estetica 47:9-29.
    At fiftieth anniversary of Gombrich’s Art and Illusion, an extended, highly critical review of current applications of cognitive and neuro sciences to understanding depiction, in an attempt to improve their directions by including mental content.
  46. added 2018-02-17
    Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism.Kendall L. Walton - 1984 - Noûs 18 (1):67-72.
    That photography is a supremely realistic medium may be the commonsense view, but—as Edward Steichen reminds us—it is by no means universal. Dissenters note how unlike reality a photograph is and how unlikely we are to confuse the one with the other. They point to “distortions” engendered by the photographic process and to the control which the photographer exercises over the finished product, the opportunities he enjoys for interpretation and falsification. Many emphasize the expressive nature of the medium, observing that (...)
  47. added 2018-02-16
    Medium, Subject Matter and Representation.John Dilworth - 2003 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):45-62.
    I argue that the physical marks on a canvas resulting from an artist's intentional, stylistic and expressive acts cannot themselves be the artist's expression, but instead they serve to signify or indicate those acts. Thus there is a kind of indicative content associated with a picture that is distinct from its subject matter (or 'representational content'). I also argue that this kind of indicative content is closely associated with the specific artistic medium chosen by the artist as her expressive medium, (...)
  48. added 2018-02-02
    Portrayal and the Search for Identity.Marcia Pointon - 2013 - Reaktion Books.
    We are surrounded with portraits: from the cipher-like portrait of a president on a bank note to security pass photos; from images of politicians in the media to Facebook; from galleries exhibiting Titian or Leonardo to contemporary art deploying the self-image, as with Jeff Koons or Cindy Sherman. In antiquity portraiture was of major importance in the exercise of power. Today it remains not only a part of everyday life, but also a crucial way for artists to define themselves in (...)
  49. added 2018-02-02
    What/When Is a Portrait? Royal Images of the Ancient Near East.Irene J. Winter - 2009 - Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 153:254-270.
  50. added 2018-02-02
    Portraiture.Shearer West - 2004 - Oxford: OUP.
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