Base de données des enseignements et séminaires de l'EHESS

Iconicity. II

  • Jérôme Dokic, directeur d'études de l'EHESS ( 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.

Mardi de 15 h à 17 h (salle AS1_08, 54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris), du 6 mars 2018 au 19 juin 2018. Pas de séance le 27 mars. Les séances des 12 et 5 juin se dérouleront en salle AS1_24. Séance supplémentaire le 26 juin 2018 (Institut Jean-Nicod)

In this seminar, we will tackle issues related to the nature of iconicity. Among them are the following:

  1. What makes something a picture? Can any material object act as a picture if it is cognitively processed in the right way? What are the material constraints that an object must answer to count as a picture?
  2. Are there limits to what can be represented in a picture?
  3. Is the notion of a picture a visual notion? Are there non-visual (e.g., auditory or tactile) pictures? Even if there are, is the notion of visual picture somehow more fundamental?
  4. What are the cognitive processes involved in seeing a picture as such? Does the distinction between “seeing as” and “seeing in” correspond to different sets of cognitive processes?
  5. Seeing a picture as such does not involve the same sensorimotor contingencies as those involved in ordinary perception (for instance, what is seen in a picture is not usually sensitive to one’s change of position relative to the picture). But what are the prospects of a sensorimotor or enactive approach to picture perception?
  6. It is often said that what is seen in a picture is not felt as present. What is the notion of presence at stake here? Is there a feeling of non-presence or absence that is specific to pictures?
  7. What is the relationship between pictures and fictions? Are there fictional pictures? Are there pictorial markers of fiction?
  8. What is the epistemic function of pictures? Can we distinguish between, e.g., photography and painting on the basis of the epistemic status of the relevant pictures?
  9. How should we apply the notions of style and narration to pictures? Are some pictures non-linguistic narratives?

In coordination with Roberto Casati’s homonymous seminar, we will have in the Spring 2018 the privilege of hosting six prominent specialists of the philosophy of pictorial representation: Catharine Abell (Manchester), Katerina Bantinaki (Crete), John Kulvicki (Dartmouth College), Achille Varzi (Columbia University), Alberto Voltolini (Turin) and John Zeimbekis (Patras). We shall work towards making the seminar a consensus conference about the question of iconicity.

March 6 : A crash course in theories of depiction

March 13 : John Kulvicki (Darmouth College & Institut d’Études Avancées, Paris), “Character, content, and reference in pictures”

What do pictures mean? Can one picture mean different things when deployed in different communicative acts, or in different contexts? If so, what explains the range of meanings pictures can have? I suggest that pictures can be fruitfully understood in light of the distinction, introduced originally by David Kaplan, between character and content. Both are aspects of pictorial meaning. Specifically, pictures are representations that have non-constant _characters_. This makes them similar to gradable adjectives, and perhaps color adjectives, in language. _Pictorial content_, on this view, is purely descriptive, in that it does not ever include particular individuals. This illustrates one way of using tools from the philosophy of language in the service of understanding pictures. The next lecture extends this approach.

March 20 : John Kulvicki (Darmouth College & Institut d’Études Avancées, Paris) “Individuals and pictorial content”

Individuals are not ever included in _pictorial contents_, as I explained them in the previous lecture. But portraits, postcard photos, class rosters, and many other pictures seem to be about particular individuals. They are not understood merely descriptively. To explain this, I suggest that sometimes pictures have _dthat_ contents. David Kaplan suggested that some uses of definite descriptions have particular individuals as contents, and he explained this by appeal to an operation defined over character and content. Pictures, I claim, can also have dthat contents. I will explain what this means, and, I hope convince you that it is a good way to explain many uses to which pictures are put. Though we will not have time to discuss it in detail, I will also suggest that a similar mechanism explains much iconographic interpretation of pictures.

March 27 : Séance annulée Imagination and seeing-in

April 3 : Enrico Terrone (Université de Turin), “The Standard of Correctness and the Ontology of Depiction”

I shall develop Richard Wollheim’s claim that the proper appreciation of a picture involves not only enjoying a seeing-in experience but also abiding by a standard of correctness. Scholars in the philosophy of depiction have so far focused on the distinction between standards fixed by intentions and standards fixed by causal mechanisms. Yet, I shall argue, there is a more fundamental distinction concerning the standard of correctness, namely, that between a kind-standard, an individual-standard, and standpoint-standard. I shall argue that the kind-standard and the individual-standard can be relevant also to ordinary perception, whereas the standpoint-standard is specific to the pictorial experience. I shall illustrate the explanatory power of these notions by considering Van Gogh’s painting “Shoes” (1886). Finally, I shall generalize my results thereby proposing an ontology of depiction according to which a picture is constituted by both its visual appearance and its standard of correctness.

April 10 : Pictures and emotions

May 15 : Affordances in picture

May 22 : Katerina Bantinaki (Université de Crète, directrice d’études invitee à l’EHESS) “The nature of the photographic image: between agency and automatism”

The aim of this lecture is to present and critically appraise the Orthodox theory of photography in the philosophy of depiction, as this has been recently defended by Robert Hopkins. Like past Orthodox theorists, Hopkins argues for the epistemic advantage and the limited artistic potential of photographs in relation to manugraphic pictures, acknowledging that the former, unlike the latter, have a strictly causal relation to their objects. My aim is to show that Hopkins’s conception of the photographic medium is ill-founded, arguing instead for the continuity between photographic and manugraphic pictures with regards to their epistemic and artistic potential.

May 29 : Katerina Bantinaki (Université de Crète, directrice d’études invitée à l’EHESS), “On Narrative Pictures”

The topic of this lecture is the capacity of single static pictures to have narrative content. Skepticism about this capacity revolves around the idea that such pictures are confined to the spatio-temporal fragment. My aim is to show that the skeptic’s argument is misguided: not because the skeptic did not acknowledge that pictures can depict action (this often-cited argument, I will argue, has no force); but because s/he failed to acknowledge that that even through the spatio-temporal fragment – i.e. the appearance of things in space and the overall choices of composition - a picture can convey narrative connections and thus sustain narrative engagement in a prescribed manner.

June 5 : Katerina Bantinaki (Université de Crète, directrice d’études invitée à l’EHESS), “Stylistic Deformity and Pictorial Experience”

In this lecture I will provide an account of the experience of stylistic deformity in the context of competent pictorial seeing. Siding with John Brown’s recent account of pictorial seeing, I will argue that stylistic deformity needs to figure in the recognitional aspect of pictorial seeing, if the experience is to rightly capture its intended expressive function. Further I will argue, against Brown, that the proper way of experiencing it is not the way of ‘separation seeing-in’ and thus it is not a way that supports a rigid separation between pictorial content and the content of pictorial seeing. Drawing a parallel with ordinary expressive perception, I will claim that stylistic deviant formal properties have to figure in our awareness as salient properties of the subject, but as indicative of emotion, character or thought, rather than as brute deformities.

June 12 : Catharine Abell (Université de Manchester, directrice d’études invitée à l’EHESS), “Reasoning about Representational Relevance”

I argue that the system of depiction to which a picture belongs is determined by the respects of resemblance exploited in its production. However, I also argue that it is a mistake to assume that which features of a picture are relevant to determining what it represents is determined exclusively by the system of depiction to which it belongs. Instead, I argue, the relevance of a picture's features to what it represents is sensitive to its maker's purposes in producing it. Interpreting pictures, I argue, involves reasoning about their makers' ordinary, non-communicative intentions in addition to their communicative intentions to exploit particular respects of resemblance.

June 19 : Catharine Abell (Université de Manchester, directrice d’études invitée à l’EHESS), “The Norms of Realism for Pictorial Narratives”

Realism is a property that representational artworks can exhibit. This paper is concerned with realism in perceptual narratives: narrative representations that convey their contents at least partly perceptually. It addresses the conditions under which realism constitutes an artistic merit in a perceptual narrative by identifying the artistic norms of realism that govern them. By providing accounts of these norms, it enables the identification of errors in our evaluations of realism. To demonstrate the evaluative errors to which we are prone, it focuses on the practice of non-traditional casting, cases of which are often claimed to violate norms of realism. It identifies a variety of errors in judgements of instances of non-traditional casting’s conformity to the norms of realism. It explains the source of these errors, some of which are relatively systematic and widespread. It then provides a general specification of the resources and skills required correctly to evaluate perceptual narratives according to their realism.

June 26 (à l'Institut Jean-Nicod) : Catharine Abell (Université de Manchester, directrice d’études invitée à l’EHESS), “Systems of Depiction”

The content of a linguistic representation is relative to the system of representation, or language, to which it belongs. "Coin" means different things in French and in English, for example. Several recent approaches to pictorial representation assume that the content of a picture is also relative to systems of depiction. Thus, a given picture is thought to have different contents according to a linear perspective system than it does relative to a curvilinear perspective system. I argue that the analogy between linguistic and pictorial systems is much less robust than these approaches assume. Many putative systems of depiction are not systems of representation at all. I explore the consequences of this for the nature of pictorial representation.

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

Mentions & spécialités :

Domaine de l'affiche : Philosophie et épistémologie

Intitulés généraux :

  • Jérôme Dokic- Philosophie cognitive
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    contacter l'enseignant/Please write to Jérôme Dokic.

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    contacter l'enseignement/Please write to Jérôme Dokic. Les travaux de validation peuvent être rédigés en français ou en anglais.

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

    Compte rendu

    En tandem avec le séminaire homonyme de Roberto Casati, ce séminaire a porté sur la question des images et plus particulièrement des images dites « figuratives » ou représentations iconiques (photographies, dessins, tableaux, etc.). La question de la perception des images a été abordée principalement du point de vue de la perception, et plus généralement des ressources cognitives déployées quand nous voyons un objet ou une scène dans une image tout en ayant conscience que nous avons affaire à une représentation. Le postulat de la primauté méthodologique de la philosophie de la perception, de l’esprit et des sciences cognitives pour une théorie de l’image a été confronté à d’autres approches méthodologiques, dont celle qui consiste à analyser la spécificité de l’image au regard d’autres types de représentation (y compris linguistique) en termes « structuralistes », c’est-à-dire à partir des propriétés syntaxiques et sémantiques de l’image. Le représentant le plus influent de l’approche structuraliste dans la tradition de l’esthétique analytique est Nelson Goodman, et plus récemment John Kulvicki l’a considérablement développée d’une manière qui tient compte de nombreuses critiques émises à la suite de la publication de l’ouvrage de Goodman, Langages de l’art (1968). John Kulvicki (Dartmouth College), alors Fellow de l’Institut d’Études Avancées à Paris, a été invité à présenter des aspects récents de ses travaux, à l’occasion de deux séances du séminaire. Il a pu montrer la prégnance théorique des outils classiques de la philosophie du langage, comme la distinction entre contenu et caractère (David Kaplan) pour comprendre la nature de différents types d’image (par exemple les images qui peuvent être qualifiées de « métaphoriques »). Le séminaire a également bénéficié des interventions de deux directrices d’études invitées à l’EHESS. Trois exposés de Katerina Bantinka (Université de Crète) ont clarifié la nature de l’image photographique, la dimension narrative de certaines images, et la question du style pictural. Catharine Abell (Université de Manchester) a pu également, à l’occasion de trois séances du séminaire, présenter ses travaux récents sur les systèmes de dépiction, sur le réalisme pictural, et sur le rôle respectif de la ressemblance et des intentions de l’auteur d’une image dans la détermination de son contenu représentationnel. Enfin, lors d’une autre séance du séminaire, Enrico Terrone (Université de Turin) a présenté sa conception de l’ontologie de l’image, qui accorde une importance non seulement à l’apparence visuelle dépeinte, mais aussi aux différents « standards de correction » avec lesquels elle est associée dans un contexte particulier. De manière générale, le séminaire a permis de faire le point sur la division du travail souhaitée entre philosophie de l’esprit et philosophie du langage dans l’élaboration d’une théorie adéquate des représentations iconiques.


    • Avec M. Arcangeli, « Affective memory : a little help from our imagination », dans New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory, sous la dir. de K. Michaelian, D. Debus et D. Perrin, Routledge, 2018.
    • Avec M. Arcangeli et M. Sperduti, « The beautiful, the sublime and the self », dans Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Aesthetics, sous la dir. de F. Cova et S. Réhault, Bloomsbury, 2018.
    • Avec D. Perrin, La cognition incarnée. Recherches sur la Philosophie et le Langage, Paris, Vrin, 2017.
    • Avec M. Sperduti, M. Arcangeli, D. Makowski, P. Wantzen, T. Zalla, S. Lemaire, J. Pelletier et P. Piolino, « The distinctive role of executive functions in implicit emotion regulation », Acta Psychologica, vol. 173, 2017, p. 13-20.
    • Avec J.-R. Martin, « Felt Reality and the Opacity of Perception », Topoi, vol. 36, n° 2, 2017, p. 299-309.

    Dernière modification de cette fiche par le service des enseignements (sg12@ehess.fr) : 23 mai 2018.

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