The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 35, 1998

Philosophy of Mind

Norman Yujen Teng
Pages 221-227

The Depictive Nature of Visual Mental Imagery

Tye argues that visual mental images have their contents encoded in topographically organized regions of the visual cortex, which support depictive representations; therefore, visual mental images rely at least in part on depictive representations. This argument, I contend, does not support its conclusion. I propose that we divide the problem about the depictive nature of mental imagery into two parts: one concerns the format of image representation and the other the conditions by virtue of which a representation becomes a depictive representation. Regarding the first part of the question, I argue that there exists a topographic format in the brain but that does not imply that there exists a depictive format of image representation. My answer to the second part of the question is that one needs a content analysis of a certain sort of topographic representations in order to make sense of depictive mental representations, and a topographic representation becomes a depictive representation by virtue of its content rather than its form.