Prop oriented make-believe is make-believe utilized for the purpose of understanding what I call “props,” actual objects or states of affairs that make propositions “fictional,” true in the make-believe world. I, David Hills, and others have claimed that prop oriented make-believe lies at the heart of the functioning of many metaphors, and one variety of fictionalism in metaphysics invokes prop oriented make-believe to explain away apparent references to entities some find questionable or problematic (fictional characters, propositions, moral properties, numbers). Elisabeth (...) Camp has argued against my and David Hills’ views of metaphor. Her arguments, many of them echoed by Catharine Wearing, demolish a very implausible account of metaphor, but leave entirely untouched the views that Hills and I actually proposed. Clarifying what we say about metaphor serves also as a defense of fictionalist theories that invoke prop oriented make-believe. (shrink)
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 (...) photographs are inevitably colored by the photographer’s personal interests, attitudes, and prejudices.1 Whether any of these various considerations really does collide with photography’s claim of extraordinary realism depends, of course, on how that claim is to be understood.Those who find photographs especially realistic sometimes think of photography as a further advance in a direction which many picture makers have taken during the last several centuries, as a continuation or culmination of the post-Renaissance quest for realism.2 There is some truth in this. Such earlier advances toward realism include the development of perspective and modeling techniques, the portrayal of ordinary and incidental details, attention to the effects of light, and so on. From its very beginning, photography mastered perspective. Subtleties of shading, gradations of brightness nearly impossible to achieve with the brush, became commonplace. Photographs include as a matter of course the most mundane details of the scenes they portray—stray chickens, facial warts, clutters of dirty dishes. Photographic images easily can seem to be what painters striving for realism have always been after. 2. See André Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image,” What is Cinema?, trans. Hugh Gray, vol. 1, p. 12; all further references to this work, abbreviated “OPI,” will be included in the text. See also Rudolf Arnheim, “Melancholy Unshaped,” Toward a Psychology of Art: Collected Essays, p. 186. Kendall L. Walton is professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. He is currently completing a book on representation in the arts. (shrink)
The twelve essays by Kendall Walton in this volume address a broad range of issues concerning the arts. Walton introduces an innovative account of aesthetic value, and explores relations between aesthetic value and values of other kinds. His classic 'Categories of Art' is included, as is 'Transparent Pictures', his controversial account of what is special about photographs. A new essay investigates the fact that still pictures are still, although some of them depict motion. New postscripts have been added to several (...) of the reprinted essays. (shrink)
Realist theories about fictional entities must explain the fact that, in ordinary contexts people deny, apparently in all seriousness, that there are such things as the Big Bad Wolf and Santa Claus. The usual explanation treats these denials as involving restricted quantification: The speaker is said to be denying only that the Big Bad Wolf and Santa Claus are to be found among real or actual things, not that there are no such things at all. This is unconvincing. The denials (...) may just as naturally be phrased as “The Big Bad Wolf and Santa Claus don't exist”, and claims of nonexistence seem not to admit of interpretations corresponding to statements of restricted quantification. Ordinary denials of the existence of fictional entities constitute a severe difficulty for realist theories. (shrink)
It is tempting to assume that understatement and overstatement, meiosis and hyperbole, are analogous figures of speech, differing only in whether the speaker represents a quantity as larger, or as smaller, than she means to claim that it is. But these tropes have hugely different roles in conversation. Understatement is akin to irony, perhaps a species of it. Overstatement is an entirely different kettle of fish. Things get interestingly messy when we notice that to overstate how large or expensive or (...) distant something is, is to understate how small or inexpensive or close it is, and vice versa. So it may seem, anyway. I propose an account of the two tropes that counts some utterances, in their conversational contexts, as overstatements of a quantity but not understatements of the opposite quantity, and other utterances as understatements only. This account shows why understatement is closely related to irony and overstatement is not. Although overstatement and understatement (or irony) are very different, they are sometimes combined. An understatement of one quantity may be an overstatement of a different one. (shrink)
The reader's access to the fictional world of a novel is mediated by the narrator, when there is one; the fictional world is presented from the narrator's perspective. do depictions ever have anything comparable to narrators? apparent artists sometimes have a certain perspective on the fictional world. but they don't mediate our access to it; the fictional world is presented independently of their perspective on it. depictions do present fictional worlds from certain perspectives, but not usually the perspectives of any (...) fictional characters. however, there are characters in some special depictions, especially certain films, who function very much like narrators. (shrink)
In nelson goodman's "languages of art" a symbol system must be 'finitely differentiated', both syntactically and semantically, to count as a 'notation'. goodman's formulations of these differentiation requirements are seriously defective. it is shown that most of the examples of systems which he claims fail these requirements, do not fail them as they are stated. reformulations of the two requirements are offered, which accord with the examples and seem otherwise acceptable.
Sports and competitive games of many kinds—from tag to chess to baseball—are often occasions for make-believe. To participate either as a competitor or as a spectator is frequently to engage in pretense. The activities of playing and watching games have this in common with appreciating works of fiction and participating in children’s make-believe activities, although the make-believe in sports, masked by real interests and concerns, is less obvious than it is in the other cases. What is most interesting about tag (...) and chess and baseball, however, are the ways in which the make-believe they involve differs from other varieties. (shrink)
My great-grandfather died before I was born. He never saw me. But I see him occasionally—when I look at photographs of him. They are not great photographs, by any means, but like most photographs they are transparent. We see things through them.Edwin Martin objects. His response consists largely of citing examples of things which, he thinks, are obviously not transparent, and declaring that he finds no relevant difference between them and photographs: once we slide down the slippery slope as far (...) as photographs there will be not stopping short of absurdity. The examples fail in their purpose, but they will help to clarify the reasons for the transparency of photographs. Several of them can be disposed of by noting that they jeopardize the transparency of photographs only if they jeopardize the very possibility of perception. The others appear to reflect a misconception of the issue before us and the nature of my claim.To perceive something is, in part, to have perceptual experiences caused by the object in question. This is scarcely controversial. It is also uncontroversial that additional restrictions are needed—not all causes of one’s visual experiences are objects of sight—although exactly what the required restrictions are is a notoriously tricky question. One important restriction is that the causation must be appropriately independent of human action , in a sense which I explained . This, I argued, is what distinguishes photographs from “handmade” pictures, which are not transparent. Seismographs and footprints are caused just as “mechanically” as ordinary photographs are. So are photographs that are so badly exposed or focused that they fail to present images of the objects before the camera. So, also, are the visual experiences of those who look at seismograms, footprints, and such badly focused or exposed photographs. Yet we obviously do not see the causes of these things through them, Martin claims. How is it, then, that we see through ordinary photographs? Kendall L. Walton is professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan and author of a book on representation in the arts . His previous contribution to Critical Inquiry, “Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism,” appeared in the December 1984 issue. (shrink)
In fifteen essays-one new, two newly revised and expanded, three with new postscripts-Kendall L. Walton wrestles with philosophical issues concerning music, metaphor, empathy, existence, fiction, and expressiveness in the arts. These subjects are intertwined in striking and surprising ways. By exploring connections among them, appealing sometimes to notions of imagining oneself in shoes different from one's own, Walton creates a wide-ranging mosaic of innovative insights.