Pictorial misrepresentation without figurative mispresentation

Alberto Voltolini


As many people have underlined, as regards pictures there are at least two different layers of content. In Voltolini (2015), these layers are: i) the figurative content of a picture, i.e., what one can see in it viz. what the picture presents; ii) the pictorial content of a picture, i.e., what the picture represents, as constrained by its figurative content. As regards ii), there undoubtedly ispictorial misrepresentation. Having the possibility of misrepresenting things is a standard condition in order for a picture to be a representation (Fodor 1990, Hopkins 1998). Yet as regards i), things are more problematic. First, if one intends that a picture is seen in a way that is impossible for the picture to be seen, there definitely is intentional failure, but there is no figurative mispresentation. Second, alleged cases in which one literally sees in a picture something that does not match what the picture presents (Hopkins 1998, Brown 2010) are not cases of figurative presentational failure either.


Pictorial representation; Figurative content; Pictorial content

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