Base de données des enseignements et séminaires de l'EHESS

Iconicity : What is a picture?

  • Roberto Casati, directeur d'études de l'EHESS, directeur de recherche au CNRS ( IJN )

    Cet enseignant est référent pour cette UE

S'il s'agit de l'enseignement principal d'un enseignant, le nom de celui-ci est indiqué en gras.

Jeudi de 13 h à 17 h (bd Raspail 75006 Paris), les 1er et 15 février, 15 et 29 mars, 5 avril, 3, 17 et 31 mai et 14 juin 2018. La séance du 1er février aura exceptionnellement lieu de 12 h à 17 h en salle des réunions, Institut Jean Nicod, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris. Cf. détail des séances ci-dessous

  • Jeudi 1er février : Salle M. et D. Lombard, 96 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 15 février (de 14 h 30 à 17 h) : Amphithéâtre François Furet, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 1er mars : Amphithéâtre François Furet, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 15 mars : Salle des réunions, Institut Jean Nicod, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris
  • Jeudi 29 mars : Salle 8, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 5 avril : Amphithéâtre François Furet, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 3 mai : Salle du conseil A/BS1_28, 54 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 17 mai : Salle AS1_08, 54 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 31 mai : Salle 8, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
  • Jeudi 14 juin : Salle AS1_08, 54 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

Ours is claimed to be a civilization of pictures, and most definitely pictures have profoundly colonized society and our daily lives. Each day billions of pictures are generated, stored, exchanged, published, watched, commented upon, debugged. Communication, propaganda, journalism, but also – increasingly – research and education use pictures as vectors: they are considered not only to be irreplaceable, but they aim at becoming the dominant vehicle for information transmission. Most of what surrounds us was first born and visualized in a picture: from the building you live in, to the furniture in your room, cars, airplanes, smartphones, design is a process that begins in some sort of visualization. Machines and algorithms are developed that can read, interpret and classify pictures (eg. automatically recognize people in photographs).

But what are pictures? Much as we seem to have a robust set of intuitions about what counts as a picture, it has proven exceedingly difficult to convincingly characterize the concept. We are here interested not in what makes a picture a picture of this or that, but in what makes a picture a picture, as opposed to, say, a diagram, or a string of text. We call this the iconicity problem. Philosophers from Wittgenstein to Goodman, art historians like Gombrich, psychologists like Gibson, Kennedy and Cavanagh have explored the theoretical boundaries of the notion of a picture, and the philosophy of pictorial representation is a rich theoretical field. The question of the theoretical characterization of iconicity has become particularly urgent as digital pictures challenge the notion of pictures as paradigm cases of analog representation.

In this seminar we shall tackle the question mainly from the point of view of the interface of pictures and thought. When we look at pictures, we can extract information that is then used in reasoning and linguistic communication. Does this impose constraints on the nature of pictures and of thoughts? How can digital content be extracted from analog structures? We shall study in depth the limit case of maps: are they pictures? What can they tell us about our understanding of pictures?

Suivi et validation pour le master : Hebdomadaire semestriel (24 h = 6 ECTS)

Mentions & spécialités :

Domaine de l'affiche : Philosophie et épistémologie

Intitulés généraux :

  • Roberto Casati- Des outils pour la connaissance : une théorie générale du design et de ses conséquences sociales
  • Renseignements :

    this seminar will be held in English. It may be useful to note that the topic of the seminar is not the history or anthropology of pictures, or the uses of pictures, or their impact, or the symbolism associated with them (these are important topics in themselves, but they are not dealt with in the seminar). This is an advanced seminar: some level of technicality is to be expected in the treatment of the topic.

    Teaching is structured around reading assignments and class discussion. We shall go over the various chapters of Kulvicki, J., Images. London: Routledge, 2014.

    Direction de travaux d'étudiants :

    please write to Roberto Casati, providing a short characterization of your background and interests (in either English or French) and of your motivations for attending the seminar.

    Grading will be based on class participation, and on a final paper, whose topic will be discussed with the instructor. Final papers can be in English or in French.

    For all correspondence, please mention in the subject of your mail: [EHESS Iconicity].

    Réception :

    sur rendez-vous/by appointment.

    Niveau requis :


    Adresse(s) électronique(s) de contact : casati(at)ehess.fr

    Dernière modification de cette fiche par le service des enseignements (sg12@ehess.fr) : 9 janvier 2018.

    Contact : service des enseignements ✉ sg12@ehess.fr ☎ 01 49 54 23 17 ou 01 49 54 23 28
    Réalisation : Direction des Systèmes d'Information
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