Is testimony a legitimate source of aesthetic belief? Can I, for instance, learn that a film is excellent on your say-so? Optimists say yes, pessimists no. But pessimism comes in two forms. One claims that testimony is not a legitimate source of aesthetic belief because it cannot yield aesthetic knowledge. The other accepts that testimony can be a source of aesthetic knowledge, yet insists that some further norm prohibits us from exploiting that resource. I argue that this second form of (...) pessimism has certain advantages over the first. I offer two candidates for the non-epistemic norm that, on this view, stands in the way of our taking aesthetic testimony. And I argue that this form of pessimism meets a challenge to pessimism in general – that of explaining why, if testimony cannot be a legitimate source of aesthetic belief, we can nonetheless rightly rely on the aesthetic recommendations of others. (shrink)
Is it legitimate to acquire one’s moral beliefs on the testimony of others? The pessimist about moral testimony says not. But what is the source of the difficulty? Here pessimists have a choice. On the Unavailability view, moral testimony never makes knowledge available to the recipient. On Unusability accounts, although moral testimony can make knowledge available, some further norm renders it illegitimate to make use of the knowledge thus offered. I suggest that Unusability accounts provide the strongest form of pessimist (...) view. I consider and reject five Unavailability accounts. I then argue that any such view will fail. But what is the norm rendering moral testimonial knowledge unusable? I suggest it lies in the requirement that we grasp for ourselves the moral reasons behind a moral view. This demand is one testimony cannot meet, and that claim holds whatever account we offer of the epistemology of testimony. However, while appeal to this requirement forms the most plausible pessimist view, it is another question whether pessimism is correct. (shrink)
What kind of mental state is episodic memory? I defend the claim that it is, in key part, imagining the past, where the imagining in question is experiential imagining. To remember a past episode is to experientially imagine how things were, in a way controlled by one’s past experience of that episode. Call this the Inclusion View. I motive this view by appeal both to patterns of compatibilities and incompatibilities between various states, and to phenomenology. The bulk of the paper (...) defends the account against four objections. Imagining and remembering seem to differ in whether they are active or passive, in the forms of singular content they involve, in their relations to observation and in their relations to belief. I argue that these differences can be accommodated, and some even explained, once we flesh out what else is involved in episodic memory, in addition to imagining the past. (shrink)
Some philosophers take Perky's experiments to show that perceiving can be mistaken for visualizing and so that the two sometimes match in phenomenology. On Segal’s alternative interpretation Perky’s subjects did not consciously perceive the stimuli at all. I argue that even setting this alternative aside, Perky's results do not prove what the philosophers think. She showed her subjects, not the objects they were asked to visualise, but pictures of them. What they mistook for visualizing was not perceptual consciousness of stimuli, (...) but pictorial consciousness. Once clear about the nature of the latter, we can see that Perky's results reveal nothing very surprising. (shrink)
When we see something in a picture, do we enjoy visual experience as of the depicted object? Gombrichians say yes: when viewing ordinary pictures we simultaneously see the picture and seem to see its object. But why, then, isn’t seeing-in contradictory, and how are these two elements somehow integrated into a single experience? Gombrichians’ attempts to answer appeal either to our awareness of the picture’s design, or to the idea that picture and object are not given as in the same (...) place. I argue that neither answer is successful, and thus that Gombrichianism is false. (shrink)
I argue that authentic photography is not able to develop to the full as a communicative representational art. Photography is authentic when it is true to its self-image as the imprinting of images. For an image to be imprinted is for its content to be linked to the scene in which it originates by a chain of sufficient, mind-independent causes. Communicative representational art (in any medium: photography, painting, literature, music, etc.) is art that exploits the resources of representation to achieve (...) artistically interesting communication of thought. The central resources of representation are content, vehicle properties, and the interplay between these two. Whereas painting and other representational arts are able to exploit all three to communicate thought, authentic photography can exploit interplay only to a very limited degree. However, the exploitation of interplay is the culmination of communicative representational art: the natural endpoint in its development. (shrink)
What is special about photographs? Traditional photography is, I argue, a system that sustains factive pictorial experience. Photographs sustain pictorial experience: we see things in them. Further, that experience is factive: if suchandsuch is seen in a photograph, then suchandsuch obtained when the photo was taken. More precisely, photographs are designed to sustain factive pictorial experience, and that experience is what we have when, in the photographic system as a whole, everything works as it is supposed to. In this respect (...) photographs differ from handmade pictures, and from other information-preserving tools, such as the readings on a geiger counter. This distinctive feature can be used to explain what is epistemically special about photographs, and also to give an account of the distinctive phenomenology of looking at a photograph rather than a handmade picture. All this provides the background against which to assess claims that digital photography differs from traditional in certain key ways. (shrink)
Two themes run through Wollheim’s work: the importance of history to the practice and appreciation of the arts, and the centrality of experience in appreciation. Prima facie, these are in tension. Reconciling them requires two steps. First, we should follow Wollheim in adopting a notion of experience on which features can be experienced even if we must have experience-independent access to the fact that the work exhibits them. Second, we need to state what makes a particular experience appropriate to the (...) work. What does so? An obvious answer is that the experience reflects the work’s nature. Wollheim toyed with a more ambitious line, one linking the appropriate experience to our abilities to discriminate instances of the property appreciated. He allowed that having the right experience might require knowledge of the work, and thus that that experience need not be born of the ability to discriminate the property appreciated. But he seems to have held that the appropriate experience must engender that ability, at least against the background of those actual items that might be confused with instances of the property. I argue that Wollheim’s answer is less appealing than the obvious one. (shrink)
Aesthetic judgements are autonomous, as many other judgements are not: for the latter, but not the former, it is sometimes justifiable to change one's mind simply because several others share a different opinion. Why is this? One answer is that claims about beauty are not assertions at all, but expressions of aesthetic response. However, to cover more than just some of the explananda, this expressivism needs combining with some analogue of cognitive command, i.e. the idea that disagreements over beuaty can (...) occur, and when they do it is a priori that one side has infringed the norms governing aesthetic discourse. This combination can be achieved by reading Kant’s aesthetic theory in expressivist terms. The resulting view is a form of quasi-realism about beauty. The position has its merits, but cannot ultimately explain the phenomena which motivate it. This conclusion generalises to quasi-realism about other matters. (shrink)
Some (Podro, Lopes) think that sometimes our experience of pictures is ‘inflected’. What we see in these pictures involves, somehow, an awareness of features of their design. I clarify the idea of inflection, arguing that the thought must be that what is seen in the picture is something with properties which themselves need characterising by reference to that picture’s design, conceived as such. I argue that there is at least one case of inflection, so understood. Proponents of inflection have claimed (...) great significance for the phenomenon. But what might that significance be? Inter alia, I consider Lopes’s proposal that inflection solves a central problem in pictorial aesthetics, the ‘puzzle of mimesis’. I argue that the puzzle, and the proposed solution, both turn on aspects of Lopes’s conception of seeing-in. Other accounts of seeing-in can make no sense of either. I further argue that the phenomenon of inflection itself puts pressure on the sort of account Lopes offers. Thus it is hard to offer a view which both holds that inflection occurs and is able to make clear sense of why it matters. (shrink)
What is it for a film to be realistic? Of the many answers that have been proposed, I review five: that it is accurate and precise; that is has relatively few prominent formal features; that it is illusionistic; that it is transparent; and that, while plainly a moving picture, it looks to be a photographic recording, not of the actors and sets in fact filmed, but of the events narrated. The number and variety of these options raise a deeper question: (...) what is realism, if these are all to count as species of it? In answer, I articulate a sort of picture we have of realism, not just in film but in representations in general. I then ask how far each of the candidate realisms fares, when compared with that image. (shrink)
Can indistinguishable objects differ aesthetically? Manifestationism answers ‘no’ on the grounds that (i) aesthetically significant features of an object must show up in our experience of it; and (ii) a feature—aesthetic or not—figures in our experience only if we can discriminate its presence. Goodman’s response to Manifestationism has been much discussed, but little understood. I explain and reject it. I then explore an alternative. Doubles can differ aesthetically provided, first, it is possible to experience them differently; and, second, those experiences (...) reflect differences in the objects’ themselves. A range of objections to this position is considered, but all are found wanting. (shrink)
Episodic memory is sometimes described as mental time travel. This suggests three ideas: that episodic memory offers us access to the past that is quasi-experiential, that it is a source of knowledge of the past, and that it is, at root, passive. I offer an account of episodic memory that rejects all three ideas. The account claims that remembering is a matter of representing the past to oneself, in a way suitably responsive to how one experienced the remembered episode to (...) be. I argue that episodic memory is active, in the way this view suggests. I clarify the idea that it is, as the view also implies, not a source of knowledge but an expression of knowledge the subject already has. And I suggest the view need not limit memories to states that are in any way experience-like. This position offers a way to articulate the relations between episodic memory and related phenomena: factual memory, generic memory, remembering-how and anticipation. And it allows us to explain how we know which aspects of our episodic memory states to take seriously and which (such as the shift to an observer perspective on the remembered events) to treat as merely incidental. (shrink)
This paper summarises the main claims I have made in a series of publications on depiction. Having described six features of depiction that any account should explain, I sketch an account that does this. The account understands depiction in terms of the experience to which it gives rise, and construes that experience as one of resemblance. The property in respect of which resemblance is experienced was identified by Thomas Reid, in his account of ‘visible figure’. I defend the account against (...) certain criticisms, and compare it to some of its main rivals, in particular the views offered by Goodman, Wollheim and Dominic Lopes. (shrink)
There was a deep continuity in Wollheim’s thought from his book on F. H. Bradley onward. His notion of the concept of art as deeply interiorized was inextricable from his sense of the psychological unity of the mind and the historical continuity of artistic tradition, seen on analogy with an inherited language. His study of pictorial representation pivoted on the innate psychological capacity of ‘seeing-in’, perceiving the represented subject in a surface from which it was seen as distinct but to (...) which it could be related. The expressiveness of depiction he explained through a psychoanalytic concept of projection in which we come to see a piece of the external world as corresponding to an inward state of mind. He reserved the use of the term ‘imagination’ for the artist’s elaboration of ‘seeing-in’. This he exemplified in accounts of painting by Manet, Friedrich, Titian, and Ingres among others. His critical stance has a close affinity with certain essays by Pater. (shrink)
What, if anything, is aesthetically distinctive about sculpture? Some think that sculpture differs from painting in being a specially tactile art. Different things might be meant by this, but it is anyway unhelpful to focus on our means of access to sculpture’s aesthetic properties, rather than those properties themselves. A more promising idea is that, while painting provides its own space, sculpture exists in the space of the gallery. To pursue this thought, I expound and develop the views of Susanne (...) Langer. Sculpture organizes the surrounding space when we see that space as defined by the potential for action of the sculpted object. (shrink)
An account of depiction should explain its key features. I identify six: that depiction is from a point of view; that it represents its objects as having a visual appearance; that it depictive content is always reasonably detailed; that misrepresentation is possible, but only within limits; and that the ability to interpret depictions co-varies, given general competence with pictures, with knowledge of what the depicted objects look like. All this suggests that picturing works by capturing appearances, but how more precisely (...) does it operate? I show how to use the notion of experienced resemblance in outline shape to analyse depiction in such a way as to answer this question, and to explain the six key features above. (shrink)
This paper argues that an account of picturing in terms of the experience it sustains, in particular an experience of resemblance in outline shape, is superior to Dominic Lopes’, view, on which pictures engage our recognitional capacities for the objects they depict. Lopes’ position fails to do the work proper to a philosophical theory of picturing. Lopes argues that the experienced resemblance view pays insufficient attention to empirical work, and that it incurs unwelcome empirical commitments. I refuse the commitments Lopes (...) offers, and suggest that the view is more open to the empirical than he thinks. (shrink)
In The Imaginary Sartre offers a systematic, insightful and heterodox account of imagining in many forms. Beginning with four ‘characteristics’ he takes to capture the phenomenology of imagining, he draws on considerations both philosophical and psychological to describe the deeper nature of the state that has those features. The result is a view that remains the most potent challenge to the Humean orthodoxy that to this day dominates both philosophical and psychological thinking on the topic.
What philosophical issue or issues does Molyneux’s question raise? I concentrate on two. First, are there any properties represented in both touch and vision? Second, for any such common perceptible, is it represented in the same way in each, so that the two senses support a single concept of that property? I show that there is space for a second issue here, describe its precise relations to Molyneux’s question, and argue for its philosophical significance. I close by arguing that Gareth (...) Evans conflated the two issues, and thereby provide further grounds for distinguishing them. (shrink)
Many films are made by a two-tier process: the photographing of events which themselves represent the story the film tells. The latter representation is often illusionistic. I explore two consequences. The first concerns what we see in film. I argue that we sometimes see in such films, not events representing the story told, but simply the events composing that story. The way is thereby opened to a unified aesthetic of film, whether made the two-tier way or not. The second consequence (...) is that, since we see these films as photographic, we sometimes experience them as photographic recordings of the events, possibly fictional, that compose the story told. (shrink)
Reid’s discussion of Molyneux’s question has been neglected. The Inquiry discusses the question twice, offering opposing answers. The first discussion treats the underlying issue as concerning common perceptibles of touch and vision, and in particular whether in vision we originally perceive depth. Although it is tempting to treat the second discussion as doing the same, this would render pointless various novel features Reid introduces in reformulating Molyneux’s question. Rather, the issue now is whether the blind can form a reasonable conception (...) of visual appearances, a conception that would allow them to perform Molyneux’s task. In explaining why Reid thought they can, I draw on his account of primary quality concepts as independent of sensation; of concept possession as ability, not acquaintance with sensation; and of visual appearance itself as in key part a matter of the perception of a primary quality, visible figure. Thus the issue does not concern cross-modality, what vision has in common with touch; but how even what is central in vision is amodal, able to be grasped independently of any sensory mode. Reid’s second Molyneux discussion thereby forms a focus for the Inquiry’s central claims, and the rejection of the Ideal Theory they entail. (shrink)
One problem faced by resemblance views of depiction is posed by the misrepresentation. Another is to specify the respect in which pictures resemble their objects. To isolate the first, I discuss resemblance in the context of sculpture, where the solution to the second is, prima facie, obvious. The point of appealing to resemblance is to explain how the representation has the content it does. In the case of misrepresenting sculptures, this means appealing to resemblance, not between the sculpture and the (...) object represented as it actually is, but between the former and the latter as it is represented as being. Anxiety that this move empties the view of content can be met by framing carefully the questions that resemblance views should seek to answer. (shrink)
What is the relation between affective states, such as emotions and pleasure, and imagining? Do the latter cause the former, just as perceptual states do? Or are the former merely imagined, along with suitable objects? I consider this issue against the backdrop of Sartre’s theory of imagination, and drawing on his highly illuminating discussion of it. I suggest that, while it is commonly assumed that imaginative states cause affective responses much as do perceptions, the alternatives merit more careful consideration than (...) they are usually given. (shrink)
Congenitally blind people can make and understand ‘tactile pictures’ – representations form of raised ridges on flat surfaces. If made visible, these representations can serve as pictures for the sighted. Does it follow that we should take at face value the idea that they are pictures made for touch? I explore this question, and the related issue of the aesthetics of ‘tactile pictures’ by considering the role in both depiction and pictorial aesthetics of experience, and by asking how far the (...) experience of those engaging with representations through touch can approximate to that of those engaging with them through sight. (shrink)
What is distinctive about sculpture as an artform? I argue that it is related to the space around it as painting and the other pictorial arts are not. I expound and develop Langer's suggestive comments on this issue, before asking what the major strengths and weaknesses of that position might be.
In a recent paper, I argue that Perky’s famous experiments do not show what they are often taken to show. Bence Nanay has criticised my argument on two grounds. I argue against both his lines of objection.
I raise two questions that bear on the aesthetics of painting and sculpture. First, painting involves perspective, in the sense that everything represented in a painting is represented from a point, or points, within represented space; is sculpture also perspectival? Second, painting is specially linked to vision; is sculpture linked in this way either to vision or to touch? To clarify the link between painting and vision, I describe the perspectival structure of vision. Since this is the same structure we (...) find in painting, the link is that painting manifests the perspective of vision. Touch is also perspectival, but the perspective involved is different from that in vision. Thus we can answer my second question, concerning the relations of the art forms to the senses, by addressing the first, concerning the role of perspective in sculpture. I argue that sculpture exhibits neither the perspectival structure of vision, nor that of touch. It is not perspectival, and it is not linked to either sense as painting is to vision. I close by considering the aesthetic significance of these conclusions. (shrink)
This paper considers whether pictures ever implicitly represent internal spectators of the scenes they depict, and what theoretical construal to offer of their doing so. Richard Wollheim's discussion (Painting as an Art, ch.3) is taken as the most sophisticated attempt to answer these questions. I argue that Wollheim does not provide convincing argument for his claim that some pictures implicitly represent an internal spectator with whom the viewer of the picture is to imaginatively identify. instead, I defend a view on (...) which the external spectator simply imagines herself interacting, psychologically and otherwise, with the depicted scene. I explore some of the consequences of the two positions for pictorial aesthetics, arguing that the view I favour is at least as competent as Wollheim's at accommodating those phenomena we have any reason to think hold. (shrink)
Kant claims that the judgement of taste, the judgement that some particular is beautiful, exhibits two ‘peculiarities’. First: [t]he judgement of taste determines its object in respect of delight with a claim to the agreement of every one , just as if it were objective.
Why does cinema exert such power over our emotions? Many have wanted to answer by appeal to the idea that film sustains some illusion concerning the events it narrates. I compare three such views: that film sustains the illusion that those events are before us; that it sustains that illusion, but only partially; and that, though viewers are always fully aware of seeing pictures, those pictures are experienced as the moving photographic record of the narrated events. I identify these positions’ (...) successes and failures in explaining film’s emotional power, and various ways in which the issue between them might be tested further. (shrink)
What is special about picturing according to the rules of perspectival drawing systems? My answer is at once both radical and conciliatory. I think that depiction essentially involves a distinctive experience, an experience of resemblance. More precisely, the picture must be seen as preserving what Thomas Reid (Enquiry 1764) called the "visible figure" of what is represented. It follows from this, and from some other plausible premises, that if a picture is to depict detailed spatial arrangements, rather than simply to (...) represent them in some other, non-pictorial, way, it must conform to perspectival rules. Hence the radicalism. Perspective does not provide uniquely accurate or realistic ways to depict things, but, for certain aspects of the world, the only way to depict them at all. What of the conciliatory aspect of my view? My account of depiction in no way implies that only perspectival pictures can depict anything at all. Indeed, it is quite consistent with a good deal of variation in the marks which might, in the right context, depict a given content. But better still, the factors determining what we see a picture as resembling, and hence partially determining what it depicts, are just those factors emphasized by those who take perspective to be a matter of convention. They include, for instance, the nature of the subject's perceptual environment, and the sorts of pictures to which he has previously been exposed. Thus, even given the radical claim, the variety in ways of depicting a given thing is neither incomprehensible nor indicative of some kind of failure. We can understand perspective's special status without denigrating the alternatives. (shrink)
The outcome of criticism is a perception. Does this mean that criticism cannot count as a rational process? For it to do so, it seems it would have to be possible for there to be an argument for a perception. Yet perceptions do not seem to be the right sort of item to serve as the conclusions of arguments. Is this appearance borne out? I examine why perceptions might not be able to play that role, and explore what would have (...) to be true of critical discourse for those obstacles to be circumvented. (shrink)
[Richard Wollheim] Any experiential view of pictorial meaning will assign to each painting an appropriate experience through which its mean can be recovered. When the meaning is representational, what is the nature of the appropriate experience? If there is agreement that the experience is to be described as seeing-in, disagreement breaks out about how seeing-in is to be understood. This paper challenges two recent interpretations: one in terms of perceived resemblance, the other in terms of imagining seeing. Neither view gives (...) a correct account of how the spectator distributes his attention between the marked surface and the represented object. /// [Robert Hopkins] I offer two, complementary, accounts of the visual nature of representational picturing. One, in terms of six features of depiction, sets an explanatory task. The other, in terms of the experience to which depiction gives rise, promises to meet that need. Elsewhere I have offered an account of this experience that allows this promise to be fulfilled. I sketch that view, and defend it against Wollheim's claim that it cannot meet certain demands on a satisfactory account. I then turn to Wollheim's own view, arguing that it suffers from crucial obscurities. These prevent it from meeting the explanatory commitments I describe, and are only exacerbated by the demands Wollheim himself imposes. (shrink)
Reproductive prints allow us to engage with the aesthetic/artistic character of the pictures that are their sources. But prints clearly differ from their sources in various striking ways. How, then, are they able to make engagement possible? I consider various answers. Most treat prints as acting as surrogates for the source: in sharing its aesthetic properties, in resembling it in overall aesthetic character, in being aesthetically transparent to it, or in allowing us to imagine its aesthetic character in sufficiently rich (...) detail. Others do not appeal to surrogacy: the idea that prints testify to the character of their sources, or that they are pictorial variations on them. Each answer faces difficulties, from general principles governing the aesthetic and artistic, or from the facts about reproductive prints and our interactions with them. Those difficulties may not be insuperable, but they have yet to be overcome. Until solutions are worked out, prints pose a puzzle, one that generalizes to other apparent aesthetic surrogates. (shrink)
In ‘Sight and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures’ Dominic Lopes attempts two things. First, he attempts to solve the ‘Puzzle of Mimesis’: why do we value looking at pictures over looking at the things they depict? Second, he defends ‘interactionism’: the view that some aesthetic evaluations of pictures imply evaluations in moral and cognitive terms. I argue that the attempt to solve the Puzzle turns on the notion of ‘inflection’, and that that notion is more problematic than Lopes admits. I further argue (...) that Lopes’s defence of interactionism in fact establishes a thesis weaker than desired. (shrink)
This article is a review of David Kolb's program of work on learning styles and experiential learning, which I find to be a problematic instance of psychologism. I argue that Kolb's approach ignores the process nature of experience and that attractive as it may be instrumentally, it ultimately breaks down under the weight of its structuralist reductions. Kolb attempts to account for experiential learning without a coherent theory of experience, such as might have been found in phenomenology, which he virtually (...) ignores. Thus, Kolb neglects the constitutive effects of the noetic-noemic corelationship and the intentional reality of the person. I contrast Kolb's formulations with John Dewey's much more resilient conception of "habit" and close with a critical analysis of various ways in which Kolb's learning-style instruments are used for aggressive intervention in people's lives. (shrink)
I first try to identify what problem, if any conceptual art poses for philosophical aesthetics. It is harder than one might think to formulate some claim about traditional art with which much conceptual art is inconsistent. The idea that sense experience plays a special role in the appreciation of traditional artworks falls foul of literature. Instead I focus on the idea that conceptual art exhibits a particularly loose relation between the properties with which we engage in appreciating it and the (...) properties on which those artistic properties depend. In Part II, I then offer an account of how conceptual art communicates, and attempt to use it to illuminate some prominent features of that art. I suggest it works by frustrating certain fundamental expectations with which we approach it. In this it is analogous to certain ways of indirectly communicating in conversation – certain kinds of conversational implicature. At the close, I ask whether this account allows us to address the problem identified in Part I. (shrink)
What reasons are there to value pictures? I consider one: that pictures enable us to judge, and more than that to savour, the beauty (if any) of the objects they depict. I clarify and defend this claim, tentatively explore what might explain it, consider how far it might generalize beyond beauty to other features of aesthetic interest, and assess its importance for the aesthetics of pictures.