About this topic

Relative to other so-called ‘minor entities’, in particular shadows, and to an extent holes, reflections remain strikingly under-theorised. This sub-section contains an assortment of works that explore the nature and/or harness the concept of reflection, most notably in the philosophy of perception. Here a number of issues of theoretical significance crop up:  Is perception with a mirror illusory? When one perceives a reflection, what is one perceiving – light, a reflecting surface, a reflection or an image of some sort? The nature of reflections: are they akin to echoes? More generally reflections might be treated as a diagnostic for sorting among distinct philosophical theories of perception and their relative merits. A further, but related area of concern is the connection between specular and pictorial experience. 

The concept of reflection is widely exploited in logic (reversal), philosophy of mind (simulation theories) and phenomenology (introspection). Famously, Richard Rorty’s meta-theoretical criticism of a certain species of analytic philosophy reports an over-reliance on the assumption of experience and language ‘mirroring nature'.

Key works For consideration of the nature of mirror reflections (are they images say?), and the question as to whether they are illusory see Casati 2012 and compare the classic Block 1974. An exploration of the significance of mirror reflections for contemporary philosophy of perception can be found in Millar 2011. See also the short exchange between Arthadeva 1957 (for his account of refraction see Arthadeva 1959) and Armstrong 1959.
Introductions Casati 2012
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46 found
  1. Through a Shadow, Darkly.István Aranyosi - manuscript
    The dictionary tells you that a shadow is a dark area or volume caused by an opaque object blocking some light. The definition is correct, but we need to clarify a couple of its elements: darkness and blocking. The clarification leads to the view that to see a shadow is a degree of failing to see a surface. I will also argue that seeing a silhouette (i.e. a backlit object) is a particular way of failing to see an object. Thus (...)
  2. Mr Arthadeva and Naive Realism.David M. Armstrong - 1959 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 37 (May):67-70.
  3. "Mirror Images" Are Physical Objects: A Reply to Mr. Armstrong.M. Arthadeva - 1960 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 38 (2):160 – 162.
    The author thinks d m armstrong has correctly explicated his own earlier analysis but that his criticisms are unfounded. The position armstrong takes is actually analogous to the author's in terms of right-Left distortion in mirrors. The author concludes that armstrong should say what "people are doing if they are not perceiving" which would take him into the "quagmire of sense-Data theories." (staff).
  4. Naive Realism and Illusions of Reflection.M. Arthadeva - 1957 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):155 – 169.
  5. Sense And Sensibilia; Reconstructed From The Manuscript Notes By G J Warnock.J. L. Austin - 1964 - Oxford University Press.
  6. Why Do Mirrors Reverse Right/Left but Not Up/Down.N. J. Block - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (9):259-277.
  7. Arithmetical and Specular Self-Reference.Damjan Bojadžiev - 2004 - Acta Analytica 19 (33):55-63.
    Arithmetical self-reference through diagonalization is compared with self-recognition in a mirror, in a series of diagrams that show the structure and main stages of construction of self-referential sentences. A Gödel code is compared with a mirror, Gödel numbers with mirror images, numerical reference to arithmetical formulas with using a mirror to see things indirectly, self-reference with looking at one’s own image, and arithmetical provability of self-reference with recognition of the mirror image. The comparison turns arithmetical self-reference into an idealized model (...)
  8. Perceptual Illusions: Philosophical and Psychological Essays.Clotilde Calabi (ed.) - 2012
  9. Towards a Synchretist Theory of Depiction (How to Account for the Illusionistic Aspect of Pictorial Mirrors, Illusions and Epistemic Innocence).Roberto Casati - 2012 - In Clotilde Calabi (ed.), Perceptual Illusions: Philosophical and Psychological Essays.
  10. To See or Not to See: The Uses of Photometers and Measurements of Reflective Power.Xiang Chen - 2000 - Perspectives on Science 8 (1):1-28.
    : Armed with a photometer originally designed for evaluating telescopes, Richard Potter in the early 1830s measured the re(integral)ective power of metallic and glass mirrors. Because he found significant discrepancies between his measurements and Fresnel's predictions, Potter developed doubts concerning the wave theory. However, Potter's measurements were colored by a peculiar procedure. In order to protect the sensitivity of the eye, Potter made certain approximations in the measuring process, which exaggerated the discrepancies between the theory and the data. Potter's measurements (...)
  11. Reflection: Its Nature and its Philosophic Import.Arthur Child - 1958 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 19 (1):1-15.
    Interpretation strives, for one thing, toward unification. One means of unifying is the category I call "repetition"; and reflection is one of its types. In order to identify the concept of reflection, I shall outline the various types of repetition and add some comments on this type in particular. I shall then consider several of the philosophical problems raised by the supposition that the reflective relationships do exist in the materials interpreted.
  12. Specular Space.Clare Mac Cumhaill - 2011 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):487-495.
    I argue that when empty space is seen in mirrors—that is, when perceptual specular experience is veridical—specular empty space is, like pictorial empty space, seen-in. I explain how the phenomenal expansiveness of specular reflections can nonetheless be reconciled with the see-through look of specular space.
  13. A Note on the Aesthetics of Mirror Reversal.De Clercq Rafael - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (3):553 - 563.
    According to Roy Sorensen [Philosophical Studies 100 (2000) 175–191] an object cannot differ aesthetically from its mirror image. On his view, mirror-reversing an object – changing its left/right orientation – cannot bring about any aesthetic change. However, in arguing for this thesis Sorensen assumes that aesthetic properties supervene on intrinsic properties alone. This is a highly controversial assumption and nothing is offered in its support. Moreover, a plausible weakening of the assumption does not improve the argument. Finally, Sorensen’s second argument (...)
  14. Why Do Mirrors Reverse Left/Right and Not Up/Down?Nicholas Denyer - 1994 - Philosophy 69 (268):205 - 210.
    Imagine a child′s toy arrow, sticking by its rubber sucker to a mirror′s reflective surface. We can call the direction in which such an arrow would point the finwards direction ; and we can call the opposite direction boutwards . When we look at things in a mirror, their images are apparently just as far finwards of the mirror as the things themselves are boutwards of it. For example, if we look at the tail of our arrow and cast our (...)
  15. Modes of Reflection.Marvin Farber - 1948 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 8 (4):589-600.
  16. The Color of Mirrors.Joshua Gert - 2006 - American Philosophical Quarterly 43 (4):369 - 377.
  17. Mirroring, Mindreading, and Simulation.Alvin I. Goldman - unknown
    What is the connection between mirror processes and mindreading? The paper begins with definitions of mindreading and of mirroring processes. It then advances four theses: (T1) mirroring processes in themselves do not constitute mindreading; (T2) some types of mindreading (“low-level” mindreading) are based on mirroring processes; (T3) not all types of mindreading are based on mirroring (“high-level” mindreading); and (T4) simulation-based mindreading includes but is broader than mirroring-based mindreading. Evidence for the causal role of mirroring in mindreading is drawn from (...)
  18. A Spectral Reflectance Doth Not A Color Make.C. L. Hardin - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy 100 (4):191-202.
  19. Mirror and Oneiric Mirages.Sarah Kofman - 1999 - The Harvard Review of Philosophy 7 (1):4-14.
  20. Seeing Dark Things, by Roy Sorensen. New York, NY: OUP, 2008. Pp. Ix Roy Sorensen's Book, Seeing Dark Things, Begins with 'The Eclipse Riddle'. Suppose That One is Viewing In Between Oneself and the Sun Are Two Planets, One Smaller and Closer, Called. [REVIEW]Woodhouse Lane - 2012 - Mind 121:483.
  21. The Experience of Left and Right.Geoffrey Lee - 2006 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press.
  22. Through the Looking Glass.Don Locke - 1977 - Philosophical Review 86 (1):3-19.
  23. Specular Highlights as a Guide to Perceptual Content.Michael Madary - 2008 - Philosophical Psychology 21 (5):629 – 639.
    This article is a contribution to a recent debate in the philosophy of perception between Alva Noë and Sean Kelly. Noë (2004) has argued that the perspectival part of perception is simultaneously represented along with the non-perspectival part of perception. Kelly (2004) argues that the two parts of perception are not always simultaneously experienced. Here I focus on specular highlights as an example of the perspectival part of perception. First I give a priori motivation to think that specular highlights are (...)
  24. On Reflection and Negation.R. A. Mall - 1974 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 35 (1):79-92.
  25. Left and Right in the Mirror.R. M. P. Malpas - 1973 - Mind 82 (327):421-425.
  26. Sensory Phenomenology and Perceptual Content.Boyd Millar - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (244):558-576.
    The consensus in contemporary philosophy of mind is that how a perceptual experience represents the world to be is built into its sensory phenomenology. I defend an opposing view which I call ‘moderate separatism’, that an experience's sensory phenomenology does not determine how it represents the world to be. I argue for moderate separatism by pointing to two ordinary experiences which instantiate the same sensory phenomenology but differ with regard to their intentional content. Two experiences of an object reflected in (...)
  27. Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear.Timothy Morton - 2012 - Singularum 1:2-17.
  28. Self‐Images and “Perspicuous Representations”: Reflection, Philosophy, and the Glass Mirror.Anna Mudde - 2015 - Metaphilosophy 46 (4-5):539-554.
    Reflection names the central activity of Western philosophical practice; the mirror and its attendant metaphors of reflection are omnipresent in the self-image of Western philosophy and in metaphilosophical reflection on reflection. But the physical experiences of being reflected by glass mirrors have been inadequately theorized contributors to those metaphors, and this has implications not only for the self-image and the self of philosophy but also for metaphilosophical practice. This article begins to rethink the metaphor of reflection anew. Paying attention to (...)
  29. Echoes.Casey O'Callaghan - 2007 - The Monist 90 (3):403-414.
    Echo experiences are illusory experiences of ordinary primary sounds. Just as there is no new object that we see at the surface of a mirror, there is no new sound that we hear at a reflecting surface. The sound that we hear as an echo just is the original primary sound, though its perception involves illusions of place, time, and qualities. The case of echoes need not force us to adopt a conception according to which sounds are persisting object-like particulars (...)
  30. Locke's Causal Theory of Reflection.Kaila Obstfeld - 1983 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 21 (1):47-55.
  31. On Reflection.Richard Paul - 2010 - Philosophy of Photography 1 (1):101-107.
  32. Mirroring Without Metaphysics.Michael Philips - 2002 - Philosophy Now 37:33-35.
  33. Object and Reflection.Richard Randolph - 1883 - Journal of Speculative Philosophy 17 (1):90 - 94.
  34. The Philosophy of Reflection.Carveth Read - 1880 - Mind 5 (17):60-82.
  35. Reflection.Henry W. Sams - 1943 - Philosophical Review 52 (4):400-408.
  36. Occasional Identity. Reflections on Philosophy of Shadow.Damir Smiljanić - 2011 - Synthesis Philosophica 26 (1):59-66.
    Light and shadow create a conceptual pair which gives rise to a number of allusions in philosophy . Historically speaking, light is the paradigm of the Enlightenment . Significantly, in this paradigm certain vacillations appeared at the transition from the Age of Enlightenment to Romanticism: an appreciation of the shadow in the wake of the Romantic idealization of the dark side of human existence rises. Using the example of Adelbert von Chamisso’s work Peter Schlemihl’s Remarkable Story, the point of turn (...)
  37. Silhouettes: A Reply From the Dark Side. [REVIEW]Roy Sorensen - 2011 - Acta Analytica 26 (2):199-211.
    This is a reply to Casey O'Callaghan and Jonathan Westphal’s comments on Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows. Both attempt to soften the blow to intuition that comes from the most controversial thesis of the book: we see the backs of back-lit objects. Each characterizes the viewing of silhouettes as a kind of marginal seeing that only discloses shapes, sizes and location. In response, photographs are presented to show that silhouettes are typically three-dimensional and they often have internal structure. (...)
  38. Generalizing the Disappearing Act: A Reply to István Aranyosi. [REVIEW]Roy Sorensen - 2009 - Acta Analytica 24 (1):11-15.
    In “The Reappearing Act” István Aranyosi postulates a new way of seeing to solve a puzzle posed in “The Disappearing Act;” an object that is exactly shaded can be seen simply by virtue of its contrast with its environment – just like a shadow. This object need not reflect, refract, absorb or block light. To undermine the motive for this heretical innovation, I generalize the puzzle to situations involving inexact shading. Aranyosi cannot extend his solution to these variations because he (...)
  39. Para-Reflections.Roy Sorensen - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (1):93-101.
    A para-reflection is a privational phenomenon that is often mistaken for a reflection. You have seen them as the ‘reflection’ of your pupil in the mirror. Your iris reflects light in the standard way but your pupil absorbs all but a negligible amount of light (as do other dark things such as coal and black velvet). Para-reflections work by contrast. Since they are parasitic on their host reflections, para-reflections are relational and dependent in a way that reflections are not. Nevertheless, (...)
  40. The Aesthetics of Mirror Reversal.Roy Sorensen - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 100 (2):175-191.
    A flop is a picture that mirror reverses the original scene. Some flops are reversed copies. For instance, mirror reversal is systematic with technologies that require contact between a template and an imprint surface. Other flops are just pictures that have undergone the operation of flopping. For example, a slide that is inserted backwards into a projector is a flop.
  41. Mirror Notation: Symbol Manipulation Without Inscription Manipulation. [REVIEW]Roy A. Sorensen - 1999 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 28 (2):141-164.
    Stereotypically, computation involves intrinsic changes to the medium of representation: writing new symbols, erasing old symbols, turning gears, flipping switches, sliding abacus beads. Perspectival computation leaves the original inscriptions untouched. The problem solver obtains the output by merely alters his orientation toward the input. There is no rewriting or copying of the input inscriptions; the output inscriptions are numerically identical to the input inscriptions. This suggests a loophole through some of the computational limits apparently imposed by physics. There can be (...)
  42. Mereological Harmony.Gabriel Uzquiano - 2011 - In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
    This paper takes a close look at the thought that mereological relations on material objects mirror, and are mirrored by, parallel mereological relations on their exact locations. This hypothesis is made more precise by means of a battery of principles from which more substantive consequences are derived. Mereological harmony turns out to entail, for example, that atomistic space is an inhospitable environment for material gunk or that Whiteheadian space is not a hospitable environment for unextended material atoms.
  43. Leibniz on Reflection and its Natural Veridicality.Ezio Vailati - 1987 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 25 (2):247-262.
  44. Twelve Examples of Illusion.Jan Westerhoff - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    Tibetan Buddhist writings frequently state that many of the things we perceive in the world are in fact illusory, as illusory as echoes or mirages. In Twelve Examples of Illusion , Jan Westerhoff offers an engaging look at a dozen illusions--including magic tricks, dreams, rainbows, and reflections in a mirror--showing how these phenomena can give us insight into reality. For instance, he offers a fascinating discussion of optical illusions, such as the wheel of fire (the "wheel" seen when a torch (...)
  45. Biases in the Perception of Mirror-Image Reversal.David J. Yates - 1995 - Philosophy 70 (272):289.
  46. Reflections on Reflections.Wolfgang M. Zucker - 1962 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 20 (3):239-250.