Beyond Resemblance

Philosophical Review 122 (2):215-287 (2013)
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Abstract

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.

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Gabriel Greenberg
University of California, Los Angeles

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