Pictures, Titles, Depictive Content

Kendall L. Walton


What a picture depicts depends partly on the configuration of marks on the picture surface. But other circumstances contribute to its depictive content as well, including, sometimes, a title or associated text, and in the case of photographs, the real world objects whose reflected light caused the marks. These non-depictive contributors also influence the nature of the visual games of make-believe viewers engage in, and they underscore the importance of such make-believe activities and the associated imaginative experiences in our appreciation and understanding of depictive representations. The fact that photographs are subject to non-depictive contributors of a kind that don’t apply to hand-made pictures brings out an important respect in which photographs are special among depictive representations, one that is distinct from and independent of their transparency.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; imagination; music; perception; picture; representation; title

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