‘Seeing-In as Aspect Perception’ (2016)

Wollheim, Wittgenstein, and Pictorial Representation: Seeing-as and Seeing-in, edited by Gary Kemp & Gabriele Mras, London: Routledge, 2016, pp. 205-238.

Published Version| Final Draft | PhilPapers


In this chapter, I argue that seeing-in, the central element of pictorial experience, is a form of aspect perception. The argument thus connects Wollheim’s main contribution to the philosophy of depiction with one of the central themes in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of psychology. This Aspect View of pictorial experience that I would like to put forward is designed to be a direct competitor to the Experienced Resemblance View and the Imagination View, and to improve on both of them by incorporating some important elements of either. More specifically, the Aspect View claims that seeing-in involves the imperfect illusion of the picture’s surface as possessing the aspect of having the visual appearance of a three-dimensional arrangement of objects (i.e. the depicted scene). And, as part of this aspect perception, we both experience the picture’s surface as resembling the depicted scene in two-dimensional shape and have a non-perceptual awareness of the depth and volume of that scene which is similar to, but not quite like imagining.