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By Stefanie Toth

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25 The paintings of Lascaux, Old Kingdom Egypt, and Byzantium, the Kwakiutl bird, and the 1910 Vollard each belong to a different system; each resembles its subject in respects determined by its system. No picture is seen with an innocent eye, because we come to pictures primed with beliefs, expectations, and attitudes about systems of representation. Gombrich called these beliefs the ‘mental set’ or ‘cognitive schema’ making up the ‘beholder’s share’ in interpreting pictures. Identifying what any given picture represents involves recognizing its similarity to its subject in respects associated with its system of representation.

For a related use of the private-language argument to critique the view that object recognition consists in matching mental images, see Evans, Varieties of Reference, 289–96. 22 Pictures as Perceptual by Tolstoy), pictures represent because they replicate in their viewers the same experiences as their makers enjoyed. But, as Wittgenstein would have insisted, the criteria for understanding a picture cannot be privately assessable. A viewer understands a picture not because it triggers the ‘right’ experience, but because she is able to correctly identify its subject, where correct identification is assessed by performance.

28 But how can we identify the picture as a caricature in the first place, without first seeing that it represents a woman with an immense nose? The problem is that if detecting a picture’s resemblance to its subject depends on ascertaining its system, and if ascertaining its system requires us to identify what it represents and how, then a picture’s resemblance to its subject is representation-dependent. Relativizing resemblance to system of representation fails to meet the independence challenge.

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Aesthetics of Computer Games for Virtual Environments by Stefanie Toth


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