Images: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


1st Edition

By John V. Kulvicki


224 pages

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The nature of representation is a central topic in philosophy. This is the first book to connect problems with understanding representational artifacts, like pictures, diagrams, and inscriptions, to the philosophies of science, mind, and art.

Can images be a source of knowledge? Are images merely conventional signs, like words? What is the relationship between the observer and the observed? In this clear and stimulating introduction to the problem John V. Kulvicki explores these questions and more. He discusses:

  • the nature of pictorial experience and "seeing in"
  • recognition, resemblance, pretense, and structural theories of depiction
  • images as aids to scientific discovery and understanding
  • mental imagery and the nature of perceptual content
  • photographs as visual prostheses.

In so doing he assesses central problems in the philosophy of images, such as how objects we make come to represent other things, and how we distinguish kinds of representation - pictures, diagrams, graphs - from one another. Essential reading for students and professional philosophers alike, the book also contains chapter summaries, annotated further reading, and a glossary.


"… a comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of imagistic representations. Kulvicki provides a splendid critical introductory overview of recent philosophical accounts of pictorial representation, the majority of which have been developed within the framework of the philosophy of art. … In sum, this book provides an excellent critical overview of contemporary theories of pictorial representation. But it is also an ambitious attempt to provide the foundations of an account of a broader domain of images." - Paloma Atencia-Linares, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Smartly written and skilfully constructed, featuring an even-handed and comprehensive overview of the best that philosophers have had to say about images. If your library has space for only one book on the philosophy of pictures, then this is it." - Dominic McIver Lopes, University of British Columbia, Canada

"A first-rate introduction to the philosophical debate on the nature of images. Yet, this book delivers much more than just an introduction. By discussing images in the context of the philosophy of science, aesthetics, and the philosophy of mind, Kulvicki opens up new lines of inquiry and invites the reader to think more deeply about the nature of images." - René Jagnow, University of Georgia, USA

"A superb guide to the rich post-Gombrich literature on the nature of pictorial representation and images in general, including scientific images, graphs, diagrams, and mental images. It is also an innovative development and defense of Kulvicki’s preferred structuralist theory. Sophisticated yet accessible, it is exceptionally interesting and insightful." - Kendall Walton, University of Michigan, USA

"As an introductory volume to the post-Gombrich literature on pictorial depiction, Images both acts as an excellent springboard for diving into the many diverse positions that dominate the field, and as a wonderful textbook for upper-level undergraduate or graduate philosophy seminars. It is also written very well, and even the most mildly interested reader would find it a pleasure to read." - James Elliott (Purdue University) Philosophical Psychology

Table of Contents

Introduction: Pictorial Platitudes 1. Gombrich and the Beholder’s Share 2. Experience 3. Recognition 4. Resemblance 5. Pretense 6. Structure 7. Realism and Unrealism 8. Scientific Images 9. Images in Mind 10. Photography and Object Perception. Index

About the Author

John V. Kulvicki is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Dartmouth University, USA. He is the author of On Images: Their Structure and Content (2006).

About the Series

New Problems of Philosophy

New Problems of Philosophy

Series Editor: José Luis Bermúdez, Texas A&M University

'Routledge's New Problems of Philosophy series has a most impressive line-up of topical volumes aimed at upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy and at others with interests in cutting edge philosophical work. The authors are influential figures in their respective fields and notably adept at synthesizing and explaining intricate topics fairly and comprehensively.' - John Heil, Monash University, Australia, and Washington University, St Louis, USA

'This is an outstanding collection of volumes. The topics are well chosen and the authors are outstanding. They will be fine texts in a wide range of courses.' - Stephen Stich, Rutgers University, USA

The New Problems of Philosophy series provides accessible and engaging surveys of the most important problems in contemporary philosophy. Each book examines a topic or theme that has emerged on the philosophical landscape in recent years, or that is a longstanding problem refreshed in light of recent work in philosophy and related disciplines. Clearly explaining the nature of the problem at hand and assessing attempts to answer it, books in the series are excellent starting-points for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to study a single topic in depth. They will also be essential reading for professional philosophers. Additional features include chapter summaries, further reading, and a glossary of technical terms.

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