Pictorial representation and psychology

Matravers, Derek (2011). Pictorial representation and psychology. In: Schellekens, Elisabeth and Goldie, Peter eds. The Aesthetic Mind: Philosophy and Psychology. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, pp. 427–438.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691517.003.0026

URL: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199691517.d...


This paper examines the views of a philosophical aesthetician who was sympathetic to psychology: Richard Wollheim. It is divided into three parts. The first gives an account of Wollheim’s views on pictorial representation: on ‘seeing-in’, ‘expressive perception’ and ‘visual delight’. The second part discusses the relation between philosophy and psychology. If we regard the first as dealing with constitutive questions, and the second dealing with causal questions, it looks as if they are separate enquiries. However, there are circumstances where the latter looks as if it will inform the former. Wollheim’s view on this issue varied; sometimes he regarded the enquiries as separate, and sometimes not. The third part argues that it is unlikely that psychology will be able to illuminate Wollheim’s views on pictorial representation, and expresses scepticism about the extent to which research on visual preferences has a bearing on aesthetics.

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