Semantics of Pictorial Space

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):847-887 (2021)
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A semantics of pictorial representation should provide an account of how pictorial signs are associated with the contents they express. Unlike the familiar semantics of spoken languages, this problem has a distinctively spatial cast for depiction. Pictures themselves are two-dimensional artifacts, and their contents take the form of pictorial spaces, perspectival arrangements of objects and properties in three dimensions. A basic challenge is to explain how pictures are associated with the particular pictorial spaces they express. Inspiration here comes from recent proposals that analyze depiction in terms of geometrical projection. In this essay, I will argue that, for a central class of pictures, the projection-based theory of depiction provides the best explanation for how pictures express pictorial spaces, while rival perceptual and resemblance theories fall short. Since the composition of pictorial space is itself the basis for all other aspects of pictorial content, the proposal provides a natural foundation for further pictorial semantics.

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Gabriel Greenberg
University of California, Los Angeles

Citations of this work

The Iconic-Symbolic Spectrum.Gabriel Greenberg - 2023 - Philosophical Review 132 (4):579-627.
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Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Knowledge and the flow of information.F. Dretske - 1989 - Trans/Form/Ação 12:133-139.

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