Mirrors of Nature: Philosophical Accounts of Realism in Pictorial Representation and Audio Recording

Term: Spring 2010

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6102


Pictures have long been an influential model for understanding what it is for thoughts and linguistic expressions to realistically represent the world.  This seminar lays the groundwork for assessing the fecundity of such an approach by first focusing on the case of pictures themselves and what it is for them to be realistic.  We will then test this model by assessing its usefulness in understanding a philosophically neglected form of mechanical representation: namely, audio recording.  Along the way, we will discuss a series of related topics, including the question of what it is for something to be a representation; the generic differences between linguistic, pictorial, and phonographic representational systems; whether pictorial realism is a relation between ourselves and pictures or between pictures and the world; whether the mechanical nature of photography makes it an inherently more realistic representational system than drawing or painting; and, finally, the overall usefulness of drawing upon pictorial realism as a model for understanding realism in other sorts of representational systems.  Authors to be discussed will include Ernest Gombrich, Nelson Goodman, John Hyman, John Haugeland, John Kulvicki, Stanley Cavell, Joel Snyder, and Casey O'Callaghan.


< back

Connect with the New School