Volume 44, Issue 2, Fall 2016
New Directions in the Philosophy of Perception
Depiction, Pictorial Experience, and Vision Science
Pictures are patterned, 2D surfaces designed to elicit 3D-scene-representing experiences from their viewers. In this essay, I argue that philosophers have tended to underestimate the relevance of research in vision science to understanding the nature of pictorial experience. Both the deeply entrenched methodology of virtual psychophysics as well as empirical studies of pictorial space perception provide compelling support for the view that pictorial experience and seeing face-to-face are experiences of the same psychological, explanatory kind. I also show that an empirically informed account of pictorial experience provides resources to develop a novel, resemblance-based account of depiction. According to what I call the deep resemblance theory, pictures work by presenting virtual models of objects and scenes in phenomenally 3D, pictorial space.