On outlining the shape of depiction

Ratio 18 (1):27–38 (2005)
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Abstract

In this paper, I discuss the account of depiction proposed by Robert Hopkins in his book Picture, Image and Experience. I first briefly summarise Hopkins’s account, according to which we experience depictions as resembling their objects in respect of outline shape. I then ask whether Hopkins’s account can perform the explanatory tasks required of an adequate account of depiction. I argue that there are at least two reasons for which Hopkins’s account of depiction is inadequate. Firstly, the notion of outline shape, as Hopkins presents it, is inconsistent. Moreover, I argue that, while a consistent construal of outline shape is possible, Hopkins’s account becomes indistinguishable from previous accounts of depiction under any such construal. Second, I argue that, however it is construed, the notion of outline shape is unable to explain one of the central features which Hopkins himself insists any successful account of depiction must explain.

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Catharine Abell
Oxford University

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