Reference and Predication in Pictorial Representation
Gabriel Greenberg (University of California, Los Angeles)

February 13, 2014, 11:00am - 1:00pm
Centre for Philosophical Psychology, University of Antwerp

Annex, Building R

Topic areas


What kind of content do pictorial images express?  Linguistic content arises, in the simplest case, when a sentence expresses the predication of a property to a referent.  In the first part of this talk, I defend the natural and familiar view that pictorial content also involves reference and predication in an analogous way.  Thus a given picture might depict Obama (the referent) aslifting his arm (the predicate).   Unfortunately for this otherwise plausible account, the format of pictorial representations resists any neat structural division into subject and predicate, in the manner of language or logic.  How then is predicative pictorial content possible?  In the second part of the talk, I offer a partial solution.  My central assumption, drawn from recent work in philosophy and psychology, is that pictorial content is organized by rules of projective geometry.  Building on this framework, I propose an interpretive principle which brings pictorial reference and geometry into alignment.  In the resulting view, pictures do not mark a structural distinction between subject and predicate.  Instead, the very same  features both refer to individual objects and express the geometrical properties ascribed to these objects.  Thus, while pictures and sentences are alike in ascribing properties to referents, they differ fundamentally in the way such content is expressed.

Upcoming events:


Spring 2014 Speaker series: Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception:


February 20: Casey O’Callaghan (Rice)

February 27: Jerrold Levinson (University of Maryland)

March 6: Catharine Abell (University of Manchester)

March 13: Christopher Peacocke (Columbia)

March 20: Catherine Wilson (University of York) - the 3rd Annual Marc Jeannerod Lecture

April 3: Rob Hopkins (University of Sheffield/NYU)

May 8: Dom Lopes (University of British Columbia)

My 15: Alva Noë (University of California, Berkeley)

May 22: Jenefer Robinson (University of Cincinnati)


Upcoming workshops and conferences:


March 12: Workshop on action phenomenology

May 12-13: Conference on the representationalism vs. relationalism debate

June 10-11: Conference on nonpropositional and imagistic content

June 25-26: Symposium with Philip Kitcher

More info:

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