Depiction is the form of representation distinctive of figurative paintings, drawings, and photographs. Accounts of depiction attempt to specify the relation something must bear to an object in order to depict it. Resemblance accounts hold that the notion of resemblance is necessary to the specification of this relation. Several difficulties with such analyses have led many philosophers to reject the possibility of an adequate resemblance account of depiction. This essay outlines these difficulties and argues that current (...) class='Hi'>resemblance accounts succumb to them. It then develops an alternative resemblance account, drawing on Grice's account of nonnatural meaning and its role in determining sentence meaning to argue that something depicts an object if it bears intention-based resemblances to the object that jointly capture its overall appearance. In addition to solving the metaphysical problem of what it is for something to depict an object, this account also sheds significant light on the epistemological issue of how we are able to work out that something depicts an object. This essay argues that our ability to work out that something depicts an object results from both our more general ability to identify intentions from the products of communicative behavior and our knowledge of stylistic conventions. This account avoids the difficulties that face rival attempts to analyze depiction in terms of resemblance. It also clarifies and explains the features that distinguish depictive from nondepictive representation. (shrink)
Gardeners, poets, lovers, and philosophers are all interested in the redness of roses; but only philosophers wonder how it is that two different roses can share the same property. Are red things red because they resemble each other? Or do they resemble each other because they are red? Since the 1970s philosophers have tended to favour the latter view, and held that a satisfactory account of properties must involve the postulation of either universals or tropes. But Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra revives the (...) dormant alternative theory of resemblance nominalism, showing first that it can withstand the attacks of such eminent opponents as Goodman and Armstrong, and then that there are reasons to prefer it to its rival theories. The clarity and rigour of his arguments will challenge metaphysicians to rethink their views on properties. (shrink)
It’s a platitude – which only a philosopher would dream of denying – that whereas words are connected to what they represent merely by arbitrary conventions, pictures are connected to what they represent by resemblance. The most important difference between my portrait and my name, for example, is that whereas my portrait and I are connected by my portrait’s resemblance to me, my name and I are connected merely by an arbitrary convention. The first aim of this book (...) is to defend this platitude from the apparently compelling objections raised against it, by analysing depiction in a way which reveals how it is mediated by resemblance. -/- It’s natural to contrast the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance, which emphasises the differences between depictive and descriptive representation, with an extremely close analogy between depiction and description, which emphasises the similarities between depictive and descriptive representation. Whereas the platitude emphasises that the connection between my portrait and me is natural in a way the connection between my name and me is not, the analogy emphasises the contingency of the connection between my portrait and me. Nevertheless, the second aim of this book is to defend an extremely close analogy between depiction and description. -/- The strategy of the book is to argue that the apparently compelling objections raised against the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance are manifestations of more general problems, which are familiar from the philosophy of language. These problems, it argues, can be resolved by answers analogous to their counterparts in the philosophy of language, without rejecting the platitude. So the combination of the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance with a close analogy between depiction and description turns out to be a compelling theory of depiction, which combines the virtues of common sense with the insights of its detractors. (shrink)
The paper aims to develop a resemblance theory of properties that technically improves on past versions. The theory is based on a comparative resemblance predicate. In combination with other resources, it solves the various technical problems besetting resemblance nominalism. The paper’s second main aim is to indicate that previously proposed resemblance theories that solve the technical problems, including the comparative theory, are nominalistically unacceptable and have controversial philosophical commitments.
Contrary to the common interpretation of Platonic art that supports the view that it is ontologically and gnoseologically irrelevant because it is mainly defined by mimetic concept as a mere imitation of the material world, and is therefore banished from the Republic, we will offer some different interpretations. Namely, it is possible to show that mimetic principle is not the reason why Plato condemns art, and that the notion of artistic mimesis in fact stems from the metaphysical notion of mimesis (...) as approximation or gradual resemblance to the paradigm. In this case artistic mimesis achieves higher ontological authenticity and imitates the ideal by means of the sensory. Parmenides’ “resemblance argument” may constitute a serious obstacle for the acceptance of, on the one hand, the idea of the relation of resemblance between Forms and particulars, that is between the paradigm and its image, and on the other hand it may question the idea of approximation in which mimetic principle has metaphysical foundation. However, when Form is seen as a synthetic unity of many things, it then represents the right standpoint for the explanation of the phenomena, and it becomes questionable when it is placed on the same level with its exemplars. If the relation of resemblance between the paradigm and its image is determined by the “dynamic”, and not by “symmetric resemblance” in which both parts are on the same level of ontological authenticity, then the view of philosophical mimesis as approximation on which relies artistic mimetic concept is legitimate. (shrink)
What is it for a picture to depict a scene? The most orthodox philosophical theory of pictorial representation holds that depiction is grounded in resemblance. A picture represents a scene in virtue of being similar to that scene in certain ways. This essay presents evidence against this claim: curvilinear perspective is one common style of depiction in which successful pictorial representation depends as much on a picture's systematic differences with the scene depicted as on the similarities; it cannot be (...) analyzed in terms of similarity alone. The same problem arises for many other kinds of depiction. The essay concludes that depiction in general is not grounded in resemblance but geometrical transformation. (shrink)
Hegel's reflections depend on the unique semantic richness of the German term Gleichheit, which has a wider range of application than the English term "equality." While Gleichheit can certainly mean equality or "parity" in the sense of sharing the same set of rights or status as another, it can also mean "to resemble" or "to be like" something in a certain respect. For Hegel, however, resemblance is not merely a relation between shared external properties, but rather two things are (...) said to be "equal" or "alike" to the extent they are united within the same horizon of existential conditions. Consequently, Gleichheit can mean both a kind of parity in respect of some external set of shared properties or rights, or to be alike in respect of some fundamental condition of existence. The originality of Hegel's conception of equality is to explicitly segregate these two senses of Gleichheit, so that he may reject the status of mere parity or "equivalence" of individuals before the law, in favor of a conception of complete ethical "likeness" or similarity between moral agents, in which Self and Other are united within the same ethical horizon. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s remarks on “seeing-as” have influenced several scholars working on depiction. They have especially inspired those who think that in order to understand depiction we should understand the specific kind of visual experience depictions arouse in the viewer (e.g. Gombrich , Wollheim [1968; 1987]). In this paper I would like to go a different way. My hypothesis is that certain of Wittgenstein’s claims both in the Tractatus and in his later writings resonate well within the context of an objective (...) class='Hi'>resemblance account of depiction (Hyman, 2006). (shrink)
This paper examines a recent proposal for reviving so-called resemblance nominalism. It is argued that, although consistent, it naturally leads to trope theory upon examination for reasons having to do with the appeal of neutrality as regards certain non-trivial ontological theses.
In my book *Resemblance Nominalism* I argued that the truthmakers of ´a and b resemble each other´ are just a and b. In his "Resemblance Nominalism and counterparts" Alexander Bird objects to my claim that the truthmakers of ´a and b resemble each other´ are just a and b. In this paper I respond to Bird´s objections.
Laws of nature concern the natural properties of things. Newton’s law of gravity states that the gravitational force between objects is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their distance; Coulomb’s law states a similar functional dependency between charged particles. Each of these properties confers a power to act as specified by the function of the laws. Consequently, properties of the same quantity confer resembling powers. Any theory that takes powers seriously must account (...) for their resemblance. This is the challenge set by the paper. The first part is devoted to Armstrong’s view according to which property resemblance reduces to partial identities between categorical properties. I argue that Armstrong’s solution to the challenge involves accepting determinable properties but that these should not be admitted. In the second part, I argue that dispositional essentialism can satisfactorily account for orderings among powers in terms of degrees of overlapping potentialities. (shrink)
Three premises set the stage for a Peirce based notion of resemblance, which, as Firstness, cannot be more than vaguely distinguished from Secondnessand Thirdness. Inclusion of Firstness with, and within, Secondness and Thirdness, calls for a nonbivalent, nonlinear, context dependent mode of thinkingcharacteristic of semiosis — that is, the process by which everything is always becoming something other than what it was becoming — and at the same time itincludes linear, bivalent classical logic as a subset. Certain aspects of (...) the Dao, Buddhist philosophy, and Donald Davidson’s ‘radical interpretation’ affordadditional, and perhaps unexpected, support for the initial set of three premises. (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)
Bertrand Russell argued that any attempt to get rid of universals in favor of resemblances fails. He argued that no resemblance theory could avoid postulating a universal of resemblance without falling prey to a vicious infinite regress. He added that admitting such a universal of resemblance made it pointless to avoid other universals. In this paper I defend resemblance nominalism from both of Russell's points by arguing that (a) resemblance nominalism can avoid the postulation of (...) a universal of resemblance without falling into a vicious infinite regress, and (b) even if resemblance nominalism had to admit a universal of resemblance, this would not make it pointless to avoid postulating other universals. (shrink)
The object of this paper is to provide a solution to Nelson Goodman's Imperfect Community difficulty as it arises for Resemblance Nominalism, the view that properties are classes of resembling particulars. The Imperfect Community difficulty consists in that every two members of a class resembling each other is not sufficient for it to be a class such that there is some property common to all their members, even if `x resembles y' is understood as `x and y share some (...) property'. In the paper I explain and criticise several solutions to the difficulty. Then I develop my own solution, which is not subject to the objections I make to the other solutions, and which accords completely with the basic tenets of Resemblance Nominalism. (shrink)
One prominent ambition of theories of colour is to pay full justice to how colours are subjectively given to us; and another to reconcile this ﬁrst-personal perspective on colours with the third-personal one of the natural sciences. The goal of this article is to question whether we can satisfy the second ambition on the assumption that the ﬁrst should and can be met. I aim to defend a negative answer to this question by arguing that the various kinds of experienced (...) colour resemblances – notably similarities in hue distance, sameness in superdeterminables, and colour resemblances between surfaces, volumes and illuminants – cannot be accounted for in terms of the mental representa-tion of the scientiﬁcally studied properties, which colours are best identiﬁed with in response to the second ambition. (shrink)
Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra offers a fresh philosophical account of properties. How is it that two different things (such as two red roses) can share the same property (redness)? According to resemblance nominalism, things have their properties in virtue of resembling other things. This unfashionable view is championed with clarity and rigor.
Judgments of visual resemblance (‘A looks like B’), unlike other judgments of resemblance, are often induced directly by visual experience. What is the nature of this experience? We argue that the visual experience that prompts a subject looking at A to judge that A looks like B is a visual experience of B. After elucidating this thesis, we defend it, using the ‘phenomenal contrast’ method. Comparing our account to competing accounts, we show that the phenomenal contrast between a (...) visual experience that induces the judgment that A looks like B, and a visual experience that does not induce this judgment, is best explained by the fact that the former visually represents B, whereas the latter does not. (shrink)
Hume argued that experience could not justify commonly held beliefs in singular causal effcacy, according to which individual or singular causes produce their effects or make their effects happen. Hume's discussion has been influential, as motivating the view that Causal reductionism (denying that causal efficacy is an irreducible feature of natural reality) requires Causal generalism (according to which causal relations are metaphysically constituted by patterns of events). Here I argue that causal reductionists---indeed, Hume himself---have previously unappreciated resources for making sense (...) of Causal singularism, associated with a relation that has been curiously underexploited in the causation debates: resemblance. The core idea I explore here is that causation may be metaphysically and epistemologically indicated by the coming-to-be of a resemblance. Comings-to-be of resemblances are epistemically available in the singular instance, even by Hume's strict lights, and, I argue, can justify (albeit fallibly) belief in the holding of singular causal relations; hence Hume's general argument for generalism fails. More to the contemporary metaphysical point, comings-to-be of resemblances provide valuable resources for existing singularist accounts: while neither changes (Ducasse) nor transfers of physical quantities (Fair, Dowe, Salmon) provide a suffciently fine-grained basis for the individuation of causes, either changes or transfers, in combination with comings-to-be of resemblances, can do so. (shrink)
What is the relation between the three following elements: words, pictures, and conceptual representations? And how do these three elements work, in defining and explaining metaphors? These are the questions that we tackle in our interdisciplinary contribution, which moves across cognitive linguistics, cognitive sciences, philosophy and semiotics. Within the cognitive linguistic tradition, scholars have assumed that there are equivalent and comparable structures characterizing the way in which metaphor works in language and in pictures. In this paper we analyze contextual visual (...) metaphors, which are considered to be the most complex ones, and we compare them to those that in language are called indirect metaphors. Our proposal is that a syllogistic mechanism of comprehension permeates both metaphors expressed in the verbal modality as well as metaphors expressed in the pictorial modality. While in the verbal modality the metaphoric syllogism is solved by inference, we argue that in the pictorial modality the role of inference is performed through mental imagery. (shrink)
The resemblance nominalist says that the truthmaker of 〈Socrates is white〉 ultimately involves only concrete particulars that resemble each other. Furthermore he also says that Socrates and Plato are the truthmakers of 〈Socrates resembles Plato〉, and Socrates and Aristotle those of 〈Socrates resembles Aristotle〉. But this, combined with a principle about the truthmakers of conjunctions, leads to the apparently implausible conclusion that 〈Socrates resembles Plato and Socrates resembles Aristotle〉 and 〈Socrates resembles Plato and Plato resembles Aristotle〉 have the same (...) truthmakers, namely, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. I shall argue that the resemblance nominalist can say that those conjunctions have the same truthmakers but these truthmakers make them true in different ways. I shall also use this view to account for the truthmakers of propositions like 〈Socrates is white〉, and respond to previous objections by Cian Dorr and Jessica Wilson. (shrink)
Platonic universals received sympathetic attention at the turn of the century in the early writings of Moore and Russell. But this interest quickly waned with the empiricist and nominalist movements of the twenties and thirties. In this process of declining interest Wittgenstein's theory of family resemblance seemed to serve both as coup de grâce and post-mortem.I propose, however, that family resemblance far from being an adequate refutation of Platonic universals can actually be accommodated within a Platonic theory properly (...) conceived. But first for some caveats and qualifications.What family resemblance actually succeeds in refuting is not Platonic universals but Aristotelian or empiricist, or, generally, abstractive or commutative, universals. An abstractive universal is a universal arrived at by induction from identical characteristics in numerically distinct individuals. An abstractive universal is a common property and nothing else. This conception of a universal has several consequences. First, abstractive universals are ontologically dependent on particulars. (shrink)
In §66 ofPhilosophical Investigations Wittgenstein looks for something common to various games and finds only an interconnecting network of resemblances. These are family resemblances. Sympathetic as well as unsympathetic readers have interpreted him as claiming that games form a family in virtue of these resemblances. This assumes Wittgenstein inverted the relation between being a member of a family and bearing family resemblances to others of that family. (The Churchills bear family resemblances to one another because they belong to the same (...) family, they don't belong to the same family because they resemble one another.) A close reading ofInvestigations gives no evidence that Wittgenstein made this mistake. Rather, family resemblances may play a role like the one criteria play for psychological terms. They give excellent but fallible evidence for membership in the extensions of some terms. (shrink)
Our ordinary judgments and our metaphysical theories share a common commitment to facts about resemblance. The nature of resemblance is, however, a matter of no small controversy. This essay examines some of the pressing questions that arise regarding the status and structure of resemblance. Among those to be discussed in what follows: what kinds of resemblance relations are there? Can resemblance be analyzed in terms of the sharing of properties? Is resemblance an objective or (...) subjective matter? What, if any, resemblance facts are fundamental? How does resemblance relate to naturalness? (shrink)
Kubovy and Epstein distinguish between systems that follow rules, and those that merely instantiate them. They regard compliance with the principles of kinematic geometry in apparent motion as a case of instantiation. There is, however, some reason to believe that the human visual system internalizes the principles of kinematic geometry, even if it does not explicitly represent them. We offer functional resemblance as a criterion for internal representation. [Kubovy & Epstein].
In his (2002) Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra provides a powerful articulation of the claim that Resemblance Nominalism provides the best answer to the so-called Problem of Universals. Resemblance Nominalism has not been popular for some time, and one inﬂuential reason for this is the widespread belief that Resemblance Nominalism cannot dispense with all universals. The realist critics appeal to what is known as Russell’s Regress (cf. Russell 1997). If properties are to be explained in terms of one object’s resembling (...) another, then this seems to leave the relational property of resemblance itself unexplained. The critics’ objection is that this property itself must be explained by a dyadic universal of resemblance. (shrink)
In "A Restriction for Pictures and Some Consequences for a Theory of Depiction", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 61, 4 (2003): 381-394, Michael Newall defended a resemblance view of depiction. He concentrated on pictures X involving a perpendicular view of the physical surface of another picture Y, and argued that the actual restrictions on what picture X can depict of Y's physical surface are best explained by a strict resemblance or similarity view. But I show that there (...) are many problems with his approach, so that overall it is no more successful than more standard resemblance views of depiction. (shrink)
Current discussions of how words have meaning owe a great deal to the two ideas of family resemblances and paradigm cases. But the relations between these ideas have not been examined sufficiently. Some people regard the ideas as pretty much the same, or at least as complementary. Others regard them as distinct but compatible instruments for ordinary language analysis. I believe that both attitudes are probably wrong. Almost certainly, neither attitude is justified given the most common understandings of the two (...) ideas. (shrink)
The concept of representation is a problematic one. So is that of resemblance or similarity. But both concepts can be clarified via a modification of Wittgenstein's notion of a "family-resemblance." I shall introduce an extended version of that notion, specifically relevant to representational objects, after presenting some arguments which show the need for it.
Berkeley’s likeness principle states that only an idea can be like an idea. In this paper, I argue that the principle should be read as a premise only in a metaphysical argument showing that matter cannot instantiate anything like the sensory properties we perceive. It goes against those interpretations that take it to serve also, if not primarily, an epistemological purpose, featuring in Berkeley’s alleged Representation Argument to the effect that we cannot reach beyond the veil of our ideas. First, (...) in section 1, I raise some concerns about the traditional narrative concerning the likeness principle’s role in Berkeley’s argumentation. In section 2, I delineate an alternative narrative, arguing that there is no ‘missing premise’ in his alleged Representation Argument we need to explain simply because he advances no argument like that in the first place. In section 3–4, I provide a close reading of the relevant passages—first from the _Principles_, then the _Dialogues_—and their contexts, supporting textually a purely metaphysical interpretation of the likeness principle arguments. In section 5, I address some possible objections, based on the phrasing of the likeness principle passages and some related texts. (shrink)
This dissertation presents an objection to Wittgenstein's concept of family resemblances, three possible solutions to the objection, evaluations of the solutions, and a sketch of Wittgenstein's approach to the objection. My thesis is that none of the three proposed solutions is satisfactory, but that Wittgenstein can deal with the objection. ;Chapter I presents the Problem of the Under-Determination of Extension, the claim that family resemblances are not enough to explain the extension of a concept, since resemblances may be postulated between (...) cases falling under different concepts. ;Chapters II and III discuss three solutions proposed by commentators on family resemblances. The Basic Predicates Solution claims that points of family resemblance are sufficient conditions, and is incorrect since Wittgenstein denies that one can infer the applicability of a concept based on the presence of a resemblance to an instance of the concept. The Simple Properties Solution claims that only some concepts are family resemblance concepts, and depend upon concepts which are not family resemblance concepts, and is incorrect, since Wittgenstein does not require that family resemblance concepts be reducible to non-family resemblance concepts. The Bi-Directional Determination of Concepts Solution is the claim that a concept is determined by an interaction between facts about cases subsumed under it, and needs and purposes of language-users. This solution is non-Wittgensteinian by ignoring the ramifications of his concepts of grammar and language-games. ;Chapter IV argues that Wittgenstein deals with the original objection by developing new models for understanding language, involving the concepts of grammar and language-games. (shrink)